Wyoming Fossil Named for Lady Gaga
In Wyoming, a fossil was found of a deer-like mammal with unusual teeth. This creature was strange enough that it earned the nickname of “little monster.”
But that's not its real name.
The name actually given to the creature is as strange as the creature itself.
Gagadon minimonstrum - Believe it or not, the name comes from Lady Gaga, the singer.
We better back up to explain what happened.
This little guy grazed on leaves and grasses in what’s now southwestern Wyoming about 50 million years ago. It was a hoofed animal much like today's modern deer or antelope.
But unlike other browsers of its time, it had unusually large teeth that were much broader, with wide ridges around the base of its molars and pointed protrusions called cusps rising along their sides. (Western Digs).
That little size and big smile made paleontologists think of Lady Gaga.
Gagadon minimonstrum — a tribute to the self-applied nickname of Lady Gaga’s fans, “little monsters.” (Western Digs).
She has also had plants and bugs that have just been discovered named after her.
I'm sorry to say that not much has been written about this toothy little Wyoming mammal. There is only one fossil of it, though there is evidence that the one found was not the only one around.
Though a few of Gagadon‘s toothy traits have been seen in fossil mammals in Europe and Asia, its combination of “unusual features” is unique, and new to the North American fossil record, they say.
Gagadon is a “surprising variant” among North American hoofed animals that “indicates a significant departure from the basic early [forms],” the duo writes.
The study of the new species and others like it, they add, “is a prime source for studying rapid evolutionary change of the artiodactyls during the early Eocene.” (Western Digs).
Wyoming Dinosaur Center
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