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Etheostoma obama, a new species described by Mayden and Layman. Copyright: Joseph R. Tomelleri
There’s nothing fishy about naming a new species of fish after the President of the United States, especially since he’s not the only one. Researchers discovered five new species of darter that navigate the bottom of fast moving freshwater streams and rivers in Alabama and Tennessee and named all but one of them after past and present presidents; another was named after former Vice President Al Gore. Why? To honor their environmental record, of course.
Steve Layman from Geosyntec Consultants in Georgia and Rick Mayden from the Department of Biology at Saint Louis University were studying a range of tiny, brightly colored fish called Etheostoma stigmaeum and discovered that many of the fish, which grow no larger than 50 mm, are so different that they are actually different species.
Etheostoma obama – a bright orange fish with clear blue spots, strips and checks and a fan-shaped fin – is endemic to the Duch and Buffalo Rivers of the Tennessee River Drainage, according to Scientific American. Males grow up to 48 mm. The first of the species to be described in a paper that will be published in the Bulletin of the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the little darter memorializes President Barack Obama’s contribution to environmental preservation.
“We chose President Obama for his environmental leadership, particularly in the areas of clean energy and environmental protection, and because he is one of our first leaders to approach conservation and environmental protection from a more global vision,” Layman told Scientific American.
Former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Teddy Roosevelt have the curious honor of having fish named after them as well.
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