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Extinct Toothy Lizard Named After Obama

Obamadon gracilis disappeared with the dinosaurs
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2012 1:15 AM CST

(Newser) – President Obama's toothy grin inspired researchers to name a newly discovered species of prehistoric lizard after him. Obamadon gracilis, a small, insect-eating lizard found in northwest Montana, went extinct along with the dinosaurs after a giant asteroid hit Earth around 65 million years ago. "The lizard has these very tall, straight teeth and Obama has these tall, straight incisors and a great smile," a paleontologist tells Reuters, explaining that he waited until after the election to name it.

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"It would look like we were kicking him when he's down if he lost and we named this extinct lizard after him," he says, adding that the name "Romneydon" was never considered. The species was first unearthed in 1974 but it wasn't recognized as a new species until it was re-examined as part of a study investigating the Cretaceous mass extinction. "The asteroid event is typically thought of as affecting the dinosaurs primarily," the paleontologist says. "But it basically cut this broad swath across the entire ecosystem, taking out everything. Snakes and lizards were hit extremely hard." (Read more taxonomy stories.)

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