A species of prehistoric flying reptile dating from 115 million years ago has been discovered by a girl who was only five at the time.
Daisy Morris is to have the species named after her as Vectidraco daisymorrisae.
The youngster, who is now nine, stumbled across the fossil at Atherfield beach on the Isle of Wight in 2009 and took it to local dinosaur expert Martin Simpson.
Along with his colleagues from the University of Southampton, Mr Simpson confirmed that the fossil came from a new species.
Vertidraco means “dragon from the Isle of Wight” while the rest of the title is named after the young fossil-hunter.
Mr Simpson said: “When Daisy and her family brought the fossilised remains to me in Apr 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 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 pterosaur has since been donated to the Natural History Museum which recently named the Isle of Wight as the “dinosaur capital of Great Britain”.
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