7 Things Named After Obama, From Schools To Roads To An Extinct Foot-Long Lizard
When it comes to honoring beloved leaders, there's nothing more common than naming buildings, objects, and sometimes even species after them. Whether it's George Washington University or John F. Kennedy International Airport, it's a phenomenon everyone is used to seeing. Even before President Barack Obama left office, there were many things named after him — but not all of them were exactly what you'd expect. Here are 7 categories of things named after Obama, from the totally normal to, well, the unusual.
For example, you might have expected for there to be schools and roads named after the nation's 44th president — and there are already many of both, according to USA Today.
"At the end of the line, 20 or 30 years from now, there will be hundreds of hospitals, schools, bridges and statutes [honoring Obama]," presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told USA Today. "He's going to be one of the four or five most celebrated figures in U.S. history."
There are a few of other things bearing Obama's name (or a version of it), however, that you're not likely to pass on your morning commute — like a gas station in Ireland, a rare South American bird, or an extinct lizard, as the BBC reported. Here are some of the things in the world that are named after Obama, from the typical to the unexpected.
Obama made no secret of the fact that he loved children. It makes sense, then, that there would be so many schools named after him, and that they'd be scattered all across the country. In the United States, this process started back in 2009, right when Obama became president, according to USA Today. Before that though, there was already at least two schools in the world named after the then-Illinois senator: the Senator Obama Kogelo Primary School and Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School, according to the BBC. Both are located in the village in Kenya where Obama's father was born and is buried.
The city of Los Angeles recently revealed a new Barack Obama Boulevard, and it's far from alone. There are already several streets and highways named after Obama in various states, as USA Today wrote, but there are also a few international outliers. There's the Avinguda Barack Obama in Valencia, Spain, which was previously named after a Spanish fascist leader, according to the Obama Legacy Initiative. And after Obama visited Tanzania in 2013, the country renamed a coastal street in its capital of Dar Es Salaam Barack Obama Drive, according to The New York Times.
3. A Pit Stop
Driving through the center of Ireland and need some gas? You can stop at Barack Obama Plaza in the village of Moneygall, Ireland, where Obama's great-great-great grandfather was born, according to the service station's webpage.
4. A Mountain
During the first year of Obama's presidency, the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda named its highest mountain — previously called Boggy Peak — after the United States' first black president in a celebration of black achievement, according to The Mercury News.
Obama's election in 2008 was celebrated across the world, including in Kenya, where his dad was born. The country even declared a holiday in response, as The Telegraph reported at the time. You can't go to Kenya to celebrate Obama Day this year, however. It was a one-off rather than a repeating occasion, and it took place on the Thursday in November 2008 after he was elected, according to the BBC.
6. Living Species
Scientists discover new plant, animal, bacterial, and fungal species all the time, and those discoveries always offer a chance for some creativity when it comes to giving them scientific names. By the time Obama left office, there were at least eight living things named after him, according to Science. None of them were particularly warm and fuzzy; instead, the list includes a type of lichen, three species of fish, a spider, a bird, and two — yes, two — parasites.
Thomas Platt, the now-retired biologist who discovered one of those parasites, the Baracktrema obamai species that lives in the blood of some Malaysian turtles, told the Associated Press that he meant the tribute as a compliment rather than an insult.
"It’s long. It’s thin. And it’s cool as hell," Platt said, calling the Baracktrema obamai "phenomenally incredibly resilient organisms."
“I hold them in awe and with phenomenal respect,” Platt told the AP.
7. Extinct Species
Scientists don't just discover living creatures. Extinct ones sometimes also show up, and there are two of those that also bear the former president's name. One is Obamadon gracilis, a foot-long lizard that once roamed ancient North America eating insects, according to Quartz. The other came from a time long before lizards had a chance to develop — Obamus coronatus, an animal shaped like a disc that lived on the seafloor about 550 million years ago, according to The Washington Post. Mary Droser, the lead researcher on the case, said that they chose the name to honor Obama's commitment to science, The Post wrote.
This list is already pretty long, but given Obama's popularity and his place in history, it's only likely to keep growing.