Obamus coronatus was a small disk-shaped creature with raised spiral grooves on its surface and measured between 0.2 and 0.8 inches (0.5 and 2 centimeters) across. Researchers have given it the name Obamus coronatus, in honor of Barack Obama and his famous passion for science.
Termed the Attenborites janeae, it owes its second part to Jane Fargher, whose property its fossil was found on.
Over 500 million years ago, deep in the dark, vast ocean, lived a creature that would one day have a connection to a 21st century American president.
According to the scientists, these creatures were two of the earliest animals that existed in our home planet. Researchers were very fortunate to find them in a well-preserved fossil bed in a southern Australia mountain range, which paleontologist Mary Droser of the University of California-Riverside had been excavating for the past 30 years.
The UC Riverside group dubbed the rich fossil bed as "Alice's Restaurant Bed" after the Arlo Guthrie song that went, "You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant".
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Between 580 and 540 million years ago, toward the end of the so-called Ediacaran Period, the first complex animals emerged in Earth's shallow oceans.
Both remarkable animals were among the first creatures to have lived on Earth.
The iconic Dickinsonia - large flat animals with a quilt-like appearance - were joined by tube-shaped organisms, frond-like creatures that looked more like plants, and several dozen other varieties already characterized by scientists.
In the hierarchical taxonomic classification system, the Ediacara Biota are not yet organized into families, and little is known about how they relate to modern animals. So far, scientists have described around 50 genera, mostly comprised of only one species. Droser was the lead author of two new studies about the discoveries. A bit different from Obamus coronatus, Attenborites janeae measured not quite a centimeter across and was clearly in the rough shape of an oval.
According to paleontologist Mary Droser, who was part of the effort to discover these ancient creatures, in 30 years, nobody has seen such a remarkably well-preserved fossil bed that has so many lovely and rare specimens. "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".