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Five-Year-Old Girl Discovers Fossil of Previously Unknown Pterosaur

A brand new pterosaur and a 300-million year old crab, the fossil finds of kids

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A reconstruction of Daisy Morris’ dinosaur, Vectidraco daisymorrisae. Photo: Naish et al.

It’s been a big week in the news for English Kids With Fossils, and a reminder that getting outside and playing in the dirt is still pretty much the best way to use your time. While on a walk on the beach with her family four years ago, says the BBC, a young Daisy Morris, now 9, “stumbled upon the remains” of a previously unknown pterosaur—one of the giant winged creates that soared the skies during the time of the dinosaurs.

The new pterosaur, says Jess Zimmerman for Grist, “is not only a previously unknown species, but an unknown genus, making Daisy’s find a really big deal.”

The new pterosaur was named in Morris’ honor, Vectidraco daisymorrisae, after Daisy and her family took the fossil find to Martin Simpson, a fossil expert at Southampton University. After a few years work, Simpson and his colleagues announced the find in a new paper.

Meanwhile, a hundred miles to the north in Oxford, 10-year-old Bruno Debattista brought a fossil (which he, too, found while out with his family) to show-and-tell at an “after-school club at Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History,” says the Daily Mail. That fossil, says The Independent, “turned out to be an ancient footprint of a horseshoe crab, which would have scuttled across a pre-historic landscape at a time when the super-continent Pangaea was being formed” — a 300-million-year-old relic.

Chris Jarvis, the education officer at the Museum, said: “Footprints of this age are incredibly rare and extremely hard to spot, so we were amazed when Bruno produced them at our After-School Club.”

Debattista, like Morris, decided to donate his fossil to the museum, a gift to the future. We’re pretty sure that Daisy Morris would win the fight at recess over whose find was cooler, though.

More from Smithsonian.com:

“Tiny Paleontologist” Loves Dinosaurs

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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