Daisy Morris, a 9-year-old British girl who discovered the fossilized remains of a prehistoric flying dinosaur while walking on an Isle of Wright beach four years ago, now officially has the species named after her.
Paleontologists have announced that the remains turned out to be a new genus and species of a small pterosaur, a flying reptile from the Lower Cretaceous period. The creature has been named Vectidraco daisymorrisae.
Morris, who was 4 at the time of the dinosaur discovery, came across the blackened bones sticking out of the sand on the Isle of Wright, near the family's home on the southern coast of England in 2009.
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"She has a very good eye for tiny little fossils and found these tiny little black bones sticking out of the mud and decided to dig a bit further and scoop them all out," the girl's mother, Sian Morris, told the BBC
. "We are all very proud of her."
The family took the bones to fossil expert Martin Simpson at Southampton University, who said they were most likely part of the pterosaur's pelvis.
"It's likely that if she had not picked this up, it would have washed away that day and might never have been found," Simpson told the Daily Mail. "It shows how amateurs and academics can work together and make some really important discoveries. She is a fascinating and unique girl. She has an amazing collection of real and fossilized bones, shells, skulls, and teeth, and her bedroom now resembles a natural history museum."
Morris's mom says the girl is fascinated with animals and dinosaurs.
"If we are in the car and we go past an animal that has died, she'll ask me to stop so we can pick it up and she can take it home. She'll put them under a crate in the garden and let it decompose," Sian Morris told the Daily Mail. "If your child is good at drawing or dancing and they enjoy it, then you encourage them and this is what Daisy enjoys, so her Dad and I have never said 'eurgh.' We've tried to encourage her."
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Daisy Morris's findings with paleontologist analysis were published in the PLOS One peer-reviewed scientific journal Monday.
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