Pterosaur Named After 9-Year-Old Fossil Hunter

SCIENCE

Pterosaur Named After 9-Year-Old Fossil Hunter
Paleontologists have named a crow-sized pterosaur after Daisy Morris, the then-5-year-old who discovered it. Vectidraco daisymorrisae lived in the Lower Creataceous period, between 145 million and 65 million years ago.

Vectidraco daisymorrisae was about the size of a modern-day crow.Illustration courtesy University of Southampton

Vectidraco daisymorrisae was about the size of a modern-day crow.
Illustration courtesy University of Southampton

Discussion Ideas:

  • Vectidraco daisymorrisae is not a dinosaur! V. daisymorrisae and other flying reptiles are called pterosaurs. Read our “media spotlight” on the fossil of another type of pterosaur, the pterodactyl. Can students name any differences between dinosaurs and pterosaurs? (The big difference, of course, is that pterosaurs mostly flew while dinosaurs walked on two or four legs.)
  • Re-read the National Geographic News article and the media spotlight. Can students list any differences between V. daisymorrisae and pterodactyls? (Key differences include
    • age: V. daisymorrisae is younger than pterodactyls. V. daisymorrisae lived in the Cretaceous period, between 145 million and 65 million years ago. Pterodactyls lived in the Jurassic, about 200 million and 145 million years ago.
    • where the fossils were discovered: V. daisymorrisae was discovered on a beach in southern England, while many pterodactyls have been discovered in southeast Germany.
    • size: V. daisymorrisae had a wingspan of about 75 centimeters (2.5 feet), while pterodactyls were slightly larger, with a wingspan of about a meter (3 feet).
    • teeth: V. daisymorrisae was toothless, while pterodactyls had about 90 teeth in their beaks.)
  • Daisy Morris made her discovery on the Isle of Wight, England. The Isle of Wight was recently named the “Dinosaur Capital of Britain.” The Isle of Wight is near Dorset, England, with its famous “Jurassic Coast,” where Daisy’s fellow female fossil-hunter Mary Anning made most of her discoveries. Why do students think the Isle of Wight, the Jurassic Coast, and other beaches make such excellent fossil-hunting sites? (An answer may hint at the fact that beaches—especially beach cliffs—are constantly eroding, exposing fossils and other ancient rocks. Another answer may draw attention to the Earth’s shifting crust. Many of today’s beaches were once at the bottom of the ocean. As the crust shifted due to plate tectonics, organisms that drifted to the sea floor and fossilized millions of years ago are now exposed at low tide.)

Note: We’re experimenting with a new feature here on the NG Education Blog. “Current Event Connection” posts will connect educators with news stories and relevant discussion ideas featuring content from the NG Education website. 

 

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