New dinosaur species named after its five-year-old discoverer

In 2009, five year old Daisy Morris was walking on Atherfield beach on the Isle of Wight when found something quite unexpected: ancient fossilized remains of some sort of terribly flying lizard. She took her discovery to fossil expert Martin Simpson at the nearby University of Southampton. Simpson and his team confirmed that Daisy had found a completely unknown species of flying dinosaur that dates back 115 million years.

Mr. Simpson remarks on the incredible discovery:

When Daisy and her family brought the fossilised remains to me in April 2009, I knew I was looking at something very special. And I was right.

The fossil turned out to be a completely new genus and species of small pterosaur, a flying reptile from 115 million years ago in the Lower Cretaceous period, which because of the island's eroding coastline, would without doubt have been washed away and destroyed if it had not been found by Daisy. It just shows that, continuing a long tradition in palaeontology, major discoveries can be made by amateurs, often by being in the right place at the right time.

Four years later, the pterosaur has been donated to the Natural History Museum and the species has been dubbed Vectidraco daisymorrisae. Vectidraco means "dragon from the Isle of Wight" and daisymorrisae is, of course, a tribute to Daisy. The Isle of Wight is known as the "dinosaur capital of Great Britain," and Daisy, now 9 years old, has developed quite an interest in fossils and dinosaurs.

Via Short List

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