Yale Professor Names Ancient Lizard "Obamadon" After President Obama

The carnivorous lizard Palaeosaniwa stalks a pair of hatchling Edmontosaurus dinosaurs as the snake Cerberophis looks on from above, and the lizard Obamadon watches from below.

During the last days of the dinosaurs, an remarkable range of reptiles were living. Among them was the Obamadon gracilis, a newly identified lizard that was named in honor of President Barack Obama.

Nicholas R. Longrich, a postdoctoral associate with Yale's Department of Geology and Geophysics who named Obamadon, said:

"We're just having fun with taxonomy."

The name has its roots in Latin: odon means "tooth" and gracilis means "slender".

The researchers described the Obamadon:

"It is a small polyglyphanodontian [one of the most diverse lizard branches] distinguished by tall, slender teeth with large central cusps separated from small accessory cusps by lingual grooves."

Longrich says that the lizard likely measured less than one foot long and probably ate insects.

Longrich published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences studying the astroid collision 65.5 million years ago that is widely believed to have killed the dinosaurs. He said that the astroid collision also led to extreme devastation among snake and lizard species, with as many as 83 percent of snake and lizard species dying off.