DAISY DISCOVERS NEW ISLE OF WIGHT “DINOSAUR” –
A young Isle of Wight girl fascinated by all things dinosaur has made an incredible discovery on an Island beach – a completely new species of “dinosaur” from 115 million year ago – which has now been named in her honour.
Daisy Morris, now aged 9, was almost 5 years old when she made the amazing find while out walking with her family at Atherfield beach. Feeling pretty sure that Daisy had stumbled across a specimen worthy of further investigation, the Morris family approached Island ‘Fossil Man’, Martin Simpson, for his expert opinion.
Martin, who immediately involved his colleagues at Southampton University, said: “When Daisy and her family brought the fossilised remains to me in April 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 without doubt 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”.
In October 2011, the skeleton was taken by Daisy personally to the Natural History Museum, South Kensington London. Daisy’s ‘find’ on an Isle beach was a fossil which has helped experts to identify a new pterosaur species. The animal is currently known only from a well-preserved pelvic girdle just 40mm long, but that was enough for the palaeontologists to work out that they were dealing with an entirely new species.
They have named it Vectidraco daisymorrisae: the generic name Vectidraco meaning ‘dragon from the Isle of Wight’, while the species name honours Daisy Morris, the girl who discovered the specimen and donated it to The Natural History Museum in London.
Daisy herself is a fascinating and unique little girl: she has an amazing collection of real and fossilised bones, shells, skulls and teeth, and her bedroom at her home in Whitwell, now resembles a natural history museum.
The story highlights the special relationship between amateurs, academics and curators, in bringing these important finds to the attention of the scientific world. As a reward for the Morris’s generous donation of the fossil to the national collections, the species has been named in her honour. Soon Daisy’s fossil will appear in all the new dinosaur books and her name will be preserved in history.
News of this particular find came shortly after the discovery on the Isle of Wight last week of an ‘almost complete’ skeleton of a 12-feet long dinosaur. That skeleton has now been removed from the National Trust land where it was found, and work to clean it is likely to take around 5 months before it can be reassembled and hopefully put on show at Dinosaur Isle museum in Yaverland.
Named the ‘Dinosaur Capital of Great Britain’ by the Natural History Museum of London in January, the Isle of Wight will also be host to one of the biggest and most extensive summer film campaigns in the UK to celebrate the upcoming release of Walking With Dinosaurs the 3D Movie, in cinemas December.
As the only place in the UK which is currently gearing itself up for a DINOFEST this summer, the Isle of Wight is once again back in the headlines – thanks to yet another discovery on an Island beach.
And while all of this promises to put the Island in the media frame as never before, the Visit Isle of Wight Limited team is currently planning a summer of dinosaur-related activities all wrapped-up under a DINOFEST banner.
David Thornton, CEO, Visit Isle of Wight Limited, said: “Back in the news thanks to another remarkable discovery on a beach, VIOW is planning a six-week summer takeover marketing campaign on the Island and in regional, national and international press inviting visitors to come walking with dinosaurs on the Isle of Wight this year.
To make the most of this free, movie-induced promotion, a DINOFEST – Summer Holiday Dinosaur Events Tool Kit – an aid to dreaming up events and activities that could be weaved around a dinosaur theme this summer – has been distributed to Island hotels, pubs, restaurants, attractions, museums, shops, school etc.
The toolkit can be used by anyone who decides to run a dinosaur-inspired event and suggestions include dinosaur-inspired food and drink, window displays, talks and lectures, treasure hunts and much more. The only criteria is that the event or activity should take place during the school summer holiday period – although VIOW will do all they can to mention any other events outside of that period. An exhibition showing the making of the film is also planned at Dinosaur Isle.
All events will be featured in DINOFEST, Visit Isle of Wight’s summer programme of dinosaur events, http://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/events/dinofest-2013-p938841