Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Futures in fossils

Daisy Morris (FIRST IMAGE), a nine-year-old from Whitwell, Derbyshire, U.K., found some fossilized bones when she was walking on the beach at the Isle of Wight at the age of five. Studied by experts at – and later donated to – the Natural History Museum, the remains are revealed to be a new species of pterosaur which they have named in her honor. The flying reptile (Vectidraco daisymorrisae) lived 115 million years ago, and its bones could have easily washed back into the sea if Daisy hadn't brought them home to add to her own collection. She is a little girl driven, as her mother explains:

"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 [it] under a crate in the garden and let it decompose. The flies lay eggs and maggots clean the skeleton, then she collects the bones. 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...tried to encourage her. Rather than say that's disgusting, we'd like to help her find out about things. She's fascinated and we're very proud of her."
Bruno Debattista (SECOND IMAGE), a 10-year-old from Oxford, U.K., found a 300-million-year-old trace fossil while on a family trip to Cornwall last summer. He has donated it to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, where experts determined that it was the track of an ancient horseshoe crab. I always enjoy blogging about budding paleontologists!

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