When I was five years old, I discovered that getting my foot jumped on during my birthday party meant I got to go inside and play with my new toys that much faster.
When Daisy Morris, now nine, was five years old, she discovered a fossil belonging to a flying pterosaur while she was poking around Atherfield Beach on the Isle of Wight in England. Dammit. If only my fifth birthday party had taken place on the Isle of Wight in 2009.
Daisy and her parents took the fossil to local dinosaur expert Martin Simpson, who, along with his colleagues at the University of Southampton, confirmed it was an entirely new species of the pterosaur that existed around 115 million years years ago. In honor of its young discoverer, the creature will be called Vectidraco daisymorrisae. Obviously, Daisy’s name makes up the second part, while “vectidraco” means “dragon from the Isle of Wight.” Considering the fossil pegs the species as being crow-sized, the dragon reference is a little far-fetched. But maybe I just have wing envy.
Lucky to have been granted this opportunity, Simpson was pleased with Daisy’s work, having this to say:
When Daisy and her family brought the fossilized 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 paleontology, major discoveries can be made by amateurs, often by being in the right place at the right time.
This is an amazing coincidence, as I’ve been crafting a scarevectidracodaisymorrisae in the cornfield behind my house. Now all we need is that Jurassic Park cloning system to come into place.