Toothy prehistoric lizard named Obamadon after smiling president

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Researchers have named a newly discovered, prehistoric lizard “Obamadon gracilis” in honor of the 44th president’s toothy grin.

The small, insect-eating lizard was first discovered in eastern Montana in 1974, but a recent re-examination showed the fossil had been wrongly classified as a Leptochamops denticulatus and was in fact a new species, researchers told Reuters on Tuesday.

Obamadon gracilis was one of nine newly discovered species reported on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In naming the new species, scientists from Yale and Harvard universities combined the Latin “Obamadon” for “Obama’s teeth” and “gracilis,” which means slender.

“The lizard has these very tall, straight teeth and Obama has these tall, straight incisors and a great smile,” said Nick Longrich, a paleontologist at the school in New Haven, Connecticut.

It was believed to have lived during the Cretaceous period, which began 145.5 million years ago. Along with many dinosaurs from that era, the lizard died out about 65 million years ago when a giant asteroid struck earth, scientists say.

Longrich said he waited until after the recent U.S. election to name the lizard.

“It would look like we were kicking him when he’s down if he lost and we named this extinct lizard after him,” he said in an interview.

“Romneydon” was never under consideration and “Clintondon” didn’t sound good, said Longrich, who supported Hillary Clinton’s failed run against Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary.

Obama is not the first politician whose name has been used to help classify organisms. Megalonyxx jeffersonii, an extinct species of plant-eating ground sloth, was named in honor of President Thomas Jefferson, an amateur paleontologist who studied the mammal.

Earlier this year, researchers announced they had named five newly identified species of freshwater perch after Obama, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter and Theodore Roosevelt.

In 2005, entomologists named three species of North American slime-mold beetles agathidium bushi, agathidium cheneyi and agathidium rumsfeldi in honor of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld – the U.S. president, vice president and secretary of defense at the time.

Other celebrity names also have been used to name new species. A small Caribbean crustacean has been named after reggae icon Bob Marley, an Australian horsefly has been named in honor of hip-hop star Beyonce, and an endangered species of marsh rabbit has been named after Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner.

http://news.yahoo.com/yale-names-toothy-dinosaur-obamadon-smiling-president-200415370.html

Billionaire plans to build real life Jurassic Park

 

An Australian billionaire reportedly plans to clone a real dinosaur from ancient DNA samples for a “Jurassic Park-style” area at his new theme resort, prompting many around the web to ask, “Has Clive Palmer seen how Jurassic Park ended?”

Palmer, one of Australia’s richest men, has been in “deep discussion” with the same scientists who cloned Dolly the sheep in 1996 to bring his vision to life, reports the Sunshine Coast Daily.

Insiders say that if successful, Palmer will set his dinosaur free to roam around a resort he’s building Coolum, Australia. Other plans for the resort are said to include a 20-storey Sky Needle, a casino, and a giant London Eye-style Ferris wheel.

It may sound like an elaborate ruse, but Palmer is the mind (and pocketbook) behind a number of outlandish projects announced in the past.

In April the mining tycoon announced plans to build a fully functional replica of the RMS Titanic, which he says will be ready to set sail by 2016.

Rumours persist that he is also planning to build sky rail to Mount Coolum.

Palmer hasn’t publicly addressed the Jurassic Park rumours, but has scheduled a press conference in Brisbane on Friday.

Excitement and skepticism about the project could be found in equal measure online Thursday afternoon.

“Because some insanely rich people are still decent human beings, Australian 5x billionaire Clive Palmer (the same guy building a replica of the Titanic) wants to clone a dinosaur and let it loose on his property as a sort of ultra-casual Jurassic Park,” writes Geekolgie. “I know where I want to go for my next birthday.”

Extreme Tech’s Ryan Whitwan warns dinosaur lovers not to get their hopes up.

“Assuming that a benevolent billionaire had magical, perfect dinosaur DNA, we don’t even have the living cells we’d need to birth a dinosaur,” he explains. “It’s not a question of technology, or of funding… We’re never going to return dinosaurs or any other ancient creature to Earth because their genes are long gone.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourcommunity/2012/08/billionaire-plans-to-build-real-life-jurassic-park.html