Dinosaurs usually hog all the prehistoric attention, but their winged cousins the pterosaurs are enjoying some newfound notoriety after big fossil discoveries in places as far afield as Brazil and the UK's Isle of Wight. The latter discovery gets extra points for adorableness, as the pterosaur fossil's discover and namesake is a 9-year-old girl.
In fact, that's arguably selling the coolness of this story short, as young Daisy Morris—who has now earned herself paleontological immortality with the pterosaur species Vectidraco daisymorrisae—was only 4 years old when she first found the fossil sticking out of the sand in 2009. And that discovery was the culmination of a year of diligent fossil-hunting, as Morris had started looking for such bones at the age of 3. As you can see in the news report from the BBC up top, the intervening four years have been spent confirming the discovery; you can check out the complete, quite readable scientific paper detailing the find over at PLoS ONE.
It's an unlikely discovery not just because of the age of its discoverer, but also because of the constantly changing coastline; as local fossil collector Martin Simpson wryly observes, "I was a little bit jealous because it should have been me who found it, but you can't be on the beach every single day, so literally most of these things get washed away, never get seen." You can check out more interviews with Daisy Morris and the other key players here.
Meanwhile, here's another BBC report on the unveiling at the Rio de Janeiro National Museum of a life-size reconstructed skeleton of the recently discovered Tropeognathus mesembrinus. The original fossil discoveries were made in northeastern Brazil's Chapada do Araripe plateau, and this particular pterosaur had a gigantic 27-feet wingspan. For more on this discovery, you can check out the also very readable scientific paper right here.