With only weeks remaining until the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, his eight-year term has attracted admiration from many and backlash from many others.
For the white Americans (most), the Obama’s were everything America shouldn’t be or aspire to be in the future. While some black Americans appreciated his leadership and the fact that he represented the black community, others felt he was not black enough.
In an article that sought to look into whether Obama was black enough, some people said “his mixed-race heritage, and his exotic upbringing overseas,” among other things did not fit “the traditional black leader mold.”
That Obama’s father was from Kenya in East Africa was also an issue for debate. Debra J. Dickerson noted in a 2007 column for Salon magazine that: “Obama isn't black. Black, in our political and social reality, means those descended from West African slaves.”
The US President, Obama, wasn’t in fact considered the first black president; Toni Morrison took that honor from him when she described Bill Clinton as “the first black president.” In a 1998 New Yorker essay, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist wrote: “After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.”
Obama’s presidency has brought to light how racist most of the Americans are. From the treatment that the President and his family have received, it is clear that most of the white people and some black Americans are not ready to accept anyone but a white leader. Something that was well demonstrated by the leadership they found in Donald Trump- the president-elect.
But even as many people fear the unknown as Donald Trump prepares to take over leadership, Barack Obama’s reign will not go down and be forgotten easily, at least not after some scientists came up with a way to immortalize him.
In a bid to show gratitude to the 44th president, scientists have named some nine newly-discovered animal species after him.
Despite the fact that the world is facing the extinction of some of the organisms that roamed the earth rapidly, scientists discover about 18,000 new species each year. These species range from animals, spiders, fish, parasites, fungus and insects that rarely live among other common organisms.
Scientific naming of organisms referred to as binomial nomenclature is characterized by two-part Latinized names. The names represent the genus and species of the organism.
These names do not have to be Latinized. Thus, ‘Obamanizing’ the names of these organisms should not come as a surprise.
According to Science Magazine, Obama has nine animals named after him, since he took office. They include:
Aptostichus barackobamai (trapdoor spider)
A biologist, Jason Bond named this spider from northern California in 2012. He noted the name was in appreciation for Obama: “I feel like his presidency is noteworthy,” Bond told Wired. “He’s been a true statesman in the face of ridiculous opposition.”
Etheostoma obama, (spangled darter)
This tiny fish, only about 45 millimeters long, was named by biologists Steve Layman, and Richard Mayden. They say the name was arrived at due to Obama’s focus on clean energy and environmental protection.
Obamadon gracilis, (extinct insectivorous lizard)
Discovered in Hell Creek Formation in Montana, the extinct, just a third of a meter long lizard had notably tall and straight teeth. According to the Paleontologists, the lizard reminded them of President Obama’s smile.
Teleogramma obamaorum, (African cichlid species)
This is a fish that lives in the Congo. It was discovered in 2011 when a drought forced the water levels to reduce tremendously exposing the populations to researchers. The fish named by Melanie Stiassny was in honor of Barack and Michelle’s commitment to science education and environment conservation in the African continent.
Paragordius obamai (hairworm)
This parasite from Kenya grows up to 30 centimeters long inside the bodies of their hosts. The hairworm lives only in crickets according to biologist Ben Hanelt. He named the parasite in 2012 in respect to Obama whose father and step-grandmother hail from a Kenyan town, just 19 kilometers away from where he found the parasites.
Baracktrema obamai (turtle blood fluke)
This second parasite named after Obama earlier in 2016, lives in the blood of freshwater turtles in Malaysia. Thomas Platt, a biologist said the parasite was named after Obama because of his lean, slender physique and resilience. The parasite is as thin as human hair and resides in the turtle’s lungs. In an interview with AP, Platt said the parasite reminded him of the outgoing president. “It’s long. It’s thin. And it’s cool as hell.”
Tosanoides obama (coral reef basslet)
The coral reef fish that lives off the coast of Hawaii was discovered in June 2016. It is the only fish to live exclusively in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a protected reserve that President Obama expanded to 1,508,870 square kilometers in August, last year. Like other scientists, Richard Pyle named the fish to compliment the current POTUS respect and protection of the natural world.
Caloplaca obamae, (firedot lichen)
The lichen that lives in California was discovered in 2007 during an ecological survey. It was the first organism to be named after the outgoing president. Researchers chose to name it C. obamae due to Obama’s support for science and science education.
Nystalus obamai, (western striolated puffbird)
The bird, which lives in the Amazon was discovered by biologist Bret Whitney in 2008. After analyzing the bird, chirping a unique song that he’d never heard before, he realized it’s a new species of puffbird. In 2013 he named N. obamai to honor Obama’s efforts on the development of green technology.
Naming special species after celebrities is not unique to the outgoing President alone. A number of other famous people share their names with animals. They include Theodore Roosevelt, Johny Cash, Shakira, and Beyoncé.
Last November, a new species of fossil sea urchin was named after Donald Trump. Tetragramma donaldtrumpi is found in the Glen Rose Formation, in Central Texas.
Image credit: Official White House Photo/Pete Souza