Species Named After U.S. Presidents

Jakub L., Reporter

About 1.6 billion species of organisms are known to humans, and some of them have been named after presidents of the United States. 

  Two species derive their names from George Washington, the first President of the United States. The first, a palm tree called washingtonia, contains edible fruit and grows in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico where people use it ornamentally. Heterophiles washingtoni, the second, is a type of parasitic wasp. 


Of the five species named after Thomas Jefferson, the third US President, only two exist while the other three remain as extinct fossils. These extinct species include chesapecten jeffersonius, the fossil of a scallop that lived on Virginia’s coastal plain 4-5 million years ago, and now the state fossil of Virginia, the Jeffersonian Mammoth, mammuthus jeffersonii, which coexisted with humans for several thousand years before their extinction, and the megalonyx jeffersonii, a type of ground sloth measuring between 8-10 feet long. Additionally, a type of wildflower, jeffersonia, also called twinleaf or rheumatism root, grows in deciduous forests during the spring. Laws in Georgia, Iowa, New York, and New Jersey protect it as an endangered species. Lastly, brachypanorpa jeffersoni, or Jefferson’s Short-nosed Scorpionfly, is a type of scorpionfly.

Chesapecten jeffersonius, the state fossil of Virginia

  Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the US, has a genus of parasitic wasps native to Australia, lincolna, named after him. Four types of roses also possess Lincoln-related names. 

  The 26th President of the US, Theodore Roosevelt, possesses seven species in his namesake. When Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Mount Olympus National Monument in the state of Washington, he named a species of elk there, cervus canadensis roosevelti, after the monument’s founder, Theodore Roosevelt. Additionally, Roosevelt discovered the crocidura roosevelti, Roosevelt’s shrew, gazella granti roosevelti, a type of gazelle, and felis leo roosevelti, the Abyssinian lion. Researchers also named several other species after Roosevelt, including pheidole roosevelti, an ant, stenomorpha roosevelti, a beetle, and etheostoma teddyroosevelt, the highland darter.

Cervus canadensis roosevelti – Roosevelt Elk

Both beetles, statira wilsoni and elodes wilsoni, bear names originating from the 28th President of the US, Woodrow Wilson, for negotiating the Armistice of 11 November 1918 with the German government, signifying the end of hostilities of World War I. 

Native to South America, the Kennedy Tetra, or astyanax kennedyi, a fish, derives its name from 35th President of the US John F. Kennedy. 

Astyanax kennedyi – Kennedy Tetra

Both the arianops carteri, a type of beetle, and the etheostoma jimmycarter, or the bluegrass darter, received names based on those of the 39th US President, Jimmy Carter. 

  The 40th US President, Ronald Reagan, also has a wasp named after him, heterospilus reagani

  Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the US, possesses two animal species named after him: Arianops clintoni, a species of beetle, and the beaded darter, etheostoma clinton

Etheostoma clinton – beaded darter

A species of beetle, agathidium bushi, is named after George W. Bush, 43rd President of the US. 

  The 44th President of the US, Barack Obama, possesses the most species named after him out of all American presidents, including 13 animal species and one species of fungi. A type of trapdoor spider called aptostichus barackobamai, a Cuban spider called spintharus barackobamai, lasioglossum obamai, a Cuban bee, the spangled darter, etheostoma obama, the western striolated puffbird, nystalus obamai, teleogramma obamaorum, a cichlid, the coral reef basslet, tosanoides obama, a sea slug called placida barackobamai, and desmopachria barackobamai, a beetle from French Guiana, were named after this president. Additionally, an extinct species of lizard, found in Hell Creek Formation in Montana, called obamadon gracilis, received its name from Obama, as did a fossil called obamus coronatus. A species of hairworm, a parasite that only infects crickets, possesses the name paragordius obamai, and another parasite, a blood fluke that infects turtles, bears the name baracktrema obamai. Lastly, a species of fungi called firedot lichen, or caloplaca obamae, which grows on Santa Rosa Island off the coast of California. 

Obamadon gracilis

Two species are named after Donald Trump, 45th President of the US: Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, a moth that resides in Southern California and Northern Mexico and possesses yellow-white head scales similar to Trump’s hair, and tetragramma donaldtrumpi, a prehistoric sea urchin. 

Neopalpa donaldtrumpi

Recently, the first animal species was named after President Joe Biden. Called syllipsimopodi bideni, they are an extinct vampyropod, and the ancestors of the octopus species. Although vamyropods usually contain eight arms, the syllipsimopodi bideni contains ten. Originally excavated in 1988 in Montana, the fossil sat in the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada before researchers identified it as a new species in 2022. The researchers were “encouraged by [Biden’s] plans to address climate change and to fund scientific research,” according to The Guardian article, “Joe Biden Is a Fossil: 328m-year-old Vampire Squid Named After President”. 

Syllipsimopodi bideni