New Dinosaur 'Dragon' Named after Nine Year-Old Daisy Morris
By Fiona Keating | March 20, 2013 10:48 PM EST
A nine-year-old girl who discovered the fossilised remains of a dinosaur on the Isle of Wight is to have the ancient flying reptile named after her.
Dinosaur fan Daisy Morris found the bones of a previously unknown pterosaur on Atherfield beach four years ago.
The newly discovered species of dinosaur will be named Vectidraco daisymorrisae, which translates as 'Daisy Morris's Isle of Wight Dragon'. Vectis is the ancient name for the Isle of Wight.
After discovering the fossil, the Morris family contacted local dinosaur expert, Martin Simpson. Along with his colleagues at the University of Southampton, Simpson confirmed that the fossil came from a new species.
''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," Simpson told the Southern Daily Echo.
''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.''
The new species and name was confirmed in a scientific paper published in the PLOS ONE Journal on Monday.
The species, with a wingspan of just 75 cm, would have been similar in size to crows or gulls, said Simpson.
The pterosaur has since been donated to the Natural History Museum which recently named the Isle of Wight as the "dinosaur capital of Great Britain".
Daisy's story is to appear in a new dinosaur book called Daisy and the Isle of Wight Dragon, which is written and published by Martin Simpson with illustrations by Mark Witton, Diego Barletta and Rupert Besley.
The find comes just days after the announcement of an international partnership between Visit Isle of Wight, Twentieth Century Fox and BBC Earth Films on the launch of the Walking with Dinosaurs 3D Movie.
The film is the first 3D cinema release from BBC Earth Films and is set for global release in December.
Twentieth Century Fox Vice President of Partnerships, Ian Morton, said: "Our partnership with the Isle of Wight this year allows us to reveal our compelling story through the island's dinosaur heritage across special locations, drawing upon a wealth of research already undertaken on the Island by palaeontologists."
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