Plants and Animals

Obama Has More Species Named After Him Than Any Other US President

With Obama’s presidency drawing to a close after eight years, his administration will be remembered for many things. The nature of his legacy will probably be a pick ‘n’ mix of different policies and blunders, depending on where you stand on the political spectrum.

But if there’s one group that seems to have had a happy few years under Obama, it’s biologists. As a testament to this, scientists have named nine different animals after him, as Science Magazine points out. Coming in a close second in this competition is the noted conservationist Teddy Roosevelt, with seven species named after him.

Here are all the Obama-related species:

  • Caloplaca obamae: an orange lichen found in California, this is the first species named after Obama.
  • Tosanoides obama: a recently described fish (pictured below) that lives in the corals of Hawaii.
  • Teleogramma obamaorum: a snail-eating fish that lives in the Congo River.
  • Nystalus obamai: a small bird with a chunky beak from the Amazonian rainforest.
  • Aptostichus barackobamai: a trapdoor spider that lives in northern California.
  • Etheostoma obama: a skinny orange and blue speckled darter fish found in the freshwaters of the eastern US.
  • Obamadon gracilis: an extinct, foot-long lizard that ate insects and lived in ancient North America.
  • Baracktrema obamai: a parasite from Malaysia that lives in turtles.
  • Paragordius obamai: an equally unflattering Kenyan parasite that lives in humans.

Tosanoides obama. Richard L Pyle

Beyond the realm of individual homages, the 44th president of the US has also protected more natural habitat than any president in American history, placing about 222 million hectares (550 million acres) of land under protection. The previous holder of this record was, again, Teddy Roosevelt who protected 117 million hectares (290 million acres) of land.

The land President Obama has protected includes 647,497 hectares (1.6 million acres) of the Mojave Trails in California and 1,508,870 square kilometers (582,578 square miles) of marine reserve around the islands of Hawaii, making it the largest protected area on the planet.

On the one hand, more species protected by the US Endangered Species Act have recovered during President Barack Obama’s presidency than under George W Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan combined. Nevertheless, Obama has faced some criticism for treating wildlife as a “distraction”. He’s come under heat for delisting the wolf and the grizzly bear in certain states, which many argued only hurt their struggling numbers even further.

“I would give Obama’s wildlife legacy a B minus,” Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, told BBC News“He has a mixed record. He has put a lot into climate change and land preservation, but never prioritized wildlife.”

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