Scientific classification

Obamadon gracilis is a Polyglyphanodontid from late Cretaceous Montana, USA. Named for US President Barack Obama.


Obamadon is not the first organism to be named after U.S. President Barack Obama. Other researchers have given his name to Etheostoma obama, the spangled darter or "Obamafish", and the lichen Caloplaca obamae. Longrich denied any political intent in the nomenclature, telling Politico that "we're just having fun with taxonomy", but commented that if the 2012 United States Presidential election had gone a different way he probably would not have used the name, as "it might have seemed like we were mocking it, naming a lizard that goes extinct after that, seemed kind of cruel." According to Longrich, he came up with the idea after the 2008 election: "when everything was all hope-y and change-y, we said we should name a dinosaur after him and call it the Obamadon."

The holotype of this taxon was documented in the original 2012 paper but not explicitly identified in the text, which meant that Obamadon was not validly named in the 2012 paper. It was designated in the correction published in 2013, validating Obamadon.


Obamadon is known from two lower jaw fragments, each less than a centimeter in length. One was found in the collections of the University of California Museum of Paleontology after having been collected from the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, and the other collected from the Lance Formation in Wyoming. When it was first named in 2012, Obamadon was identified as a member of the extinct group Polyglyphanodontia on the basis of a V-shaped connection between the two halves of the lower jaw, a slot-and-ridge type connection between the dentary bone of the lower jaw and another missing bone called the splenial bone, and teeth that are implanted within the jaw bone. Its jaw is thin and straight, unlike the curved jaws of most other polyglyphanodontians. Obamadon is estimated to have been about 30 cm (1 foot) in length and may have preyed on insects.


Obamadon is a primitive member of Polyglyphanodontia, a clade of lizards that became extinct after the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. Its jaw material was once assigned to Leptochamops, a more derived genus of polyglyphanodontian.

In Popular Culture[]

  • Obamadon was originally supposed to appear in the video game Saurian. However, it was scrapped due to its small size and similarity to Chamops.
Obamadon Saurian

Scrapped Obamadon concept art for Saurian.