Published: Fri, June 22, 2018
Science | By

Scientists discover a new ancient species and name it after President Obama

Scientists discover a new ancient species and name it after President Obama

However, this is not the only creature named after the former president, as they are actually eight other animals associated with Obama.

Obamus coronatus was a small disk-shaped creature with raised spiral grooves on its surface and measured between 0.2 and 0.8 inches (0.5 and 2 centimeters) across. The second part of the name is a reference to Jane Fargher, one of the owners of the property where the experts discovered the fossils.

This isn't the first time an animal has been named after Obama.

The newly discovered animals, officially introduced in papers published in the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, are both part of the Ediacara biota, which is a group of soft-bodied animals that existed within the Ediacaran period.

Researchers with the University of California, Riverside, (UCR) and James Gehling, a senior research scientist at the South Australian Museum, who found the ancient fossil along a mountain range in Australia, named the disc-shaped animal "Obamus coronatus", after former President Barack Obama. The creature lived on the ocean floor its entire life, and looked more like a plant.

Both these ancient creatures fossils were found well preserved in sandstone where they've remained for the last 500 million years until the researchers unearthed them. About 50 genera have been described, Droser said, which often have only one species.

Two new Ediacaran-era fossils discovered by UCR researchers: Obamus coronatus (left) and Attenborites janeae. Dickinsonia is a genus of iconic fossils of the Ediacaran biota.

"I've been working in this region for 30 years, and I've never seen such a beautifully preserved bed with so many high quality and rare specimens, including Obamus and Attenborites", said paleontologist Mary Droser of the University of California-Riverside, the lead author of two new studies about the discoveries. A bit different from Obamus coronatus, Attenborites janeae measured not quite a centimeter across and was clearly in the rough shape of an oval.

The researchers dubbed the fossil bed "Alice's Restaurant Bed", a tribute to the Arlo Guthrie song and its lyric, "You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant". "The AJES issue on the Flinders Ranges will support South Australia's effort to obtain World Heritage Site status for this area, and this new bed demonstrates the importance of protecting it". Her two children, Emily and Ian Hughes - budding scientists in their own right - also provided assistance.

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