Newly Discovered Underwater Fossil Gets Named After Obama

Christopher Davidson
June 22, 2018

Researchers have discovered fossils of two previously unknown creatures - among Earth's earliest animals - that lived in the shallow sea between 580-540 million years ago.

According to the scientists, Obamus coronatus was named after Obama because of the his strong passion for science, while coronatus stands for "crowned". Janeae is in honor of Jane Fargher, who is the co-owner of the property where the ancient sea creature fossils were discovered.

Former president Barack Obama waves as he leaves the stage after speaking during the Goalkeepers Conference hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Sept. 20, 2017, in NY.

A scientific team headed up by researchers with the University of California-Riverside discovered the remains of two new identifiable genera and published their findings - at least on one of the fossils, Obamus coronatus - last week in the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences. Therefore, they offered it the honor of being named after Obama. It probably never moved, but Droser plans to do more research to confirm that - once she returns from another trip to the desert of South Australia's Flinders Ranges region, where the team found the two new animals.

Alice's Restaurant Bed is teeming with prehistoric fossils from the Ediacaran Biota, a group of soft-bodied animals representing some of the earliest lifeforms on Earth.

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Both animals are speculated to be some of the first organisms to exist over 500 million years ago. Scientists still don't know exactly where these creatures fit into the overall tree of life, or if they evolved into more complex animals over millions of years.

It is unclear how the Ediacaran biota relate to modern animals, because they largely disappeared with the Cambrian explosion.

"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 Mary Droser, a paleontologist from the University of California-Riverside and the lead author of the studies on the discoveries. About 50 genera have been described, Droser said, which often have only one species.

Attenborites janeae: Grape shaped, less than half an inch across, with internal grooves and ridges giving it a raisin-like appearance. "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".

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