Animals, Kids, News

Pterosaur Named After Girl Who Discovered It

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Flying Vectidraco
An artist’s rendition of what the Vectidraco daisymorrisae might have looked like, flying.

Like many children, Daisy Morris loves to collect fossils.

Unlike other children, however, Daisy’s hobby has led to a pterosaur being named after her.

A pterosaur is a type of flying reptile closely related to dinosaurs.

The species Daisy discovered is now known as Vectidraco daisymorrisae, or “Dragon from the Isle of Wight.”

Daisy, who lives in England, was five years old in 2008 when she and her mother were taking a walk along the beach. She noticed some black bones—about 40 mm long– sticking out of the mud and she dug them out.

The family took the bones to a fossil expert at Southampton University in England.Daisy Morris, discoverer of Vectridraco daisymorrisae

Paleontologists took several years to analyze them. Last week they announced that the bones were part of the pelvis of a pterosaur that no one had seen before. The bones may be up to 115 million years old; they are from the Cretaceous period.

In recognition of her find and the generous donation of the fossil by the Morris family to England’s Natural History Museum, the species was named after Daisy, who is now nine years old.

The Vectridraco daisymorrisae probably had a wingspan of about 75 cm and was about 35 cm from its snout to its tail—about the same size as a seagull.

One of the palaeontologists, Martin Simpson, has written a children’s book, “Daisy and the isle of Wight Dragon” about Daisy and her adventure.

“The story highlights the special relationship between amateurs, academics and curators, in bringing these important finds to the attention of the scientific world,” said Simpson.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Science is known for its procedures and carefully-designed steps. However, some of science’s most amazing discoveries are accidental.

Use the Internet, books or newspapers to find out what other important scientific discoveries happened by accident.

Reading Prompt: Making Inferences/Interpreting Texts
The article provides you with some information about the pterosaur. Using the information in the article, imagine what the  pterosaur was like. What do you think it ate? Where do you think it lived? What did it do in order to survive?

Make inferences about texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts as evidence (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Grammar Feature: Scientific Names
Animals and plants often have two names: a scientific name and a common name. For example the common name of the reptile Daisy discovered is pterosaur and the scientific name is Vectridraco daisymorrisae. Why do you think this is the case?

Can you find the scientic names for the following:
1. bat
2. monarch butterfly
3. sweet potato
4. tulip
5. cat