We have long been told that dinosaurs were big in stature but small on brain. That being true, it is a fair assumption that their linguistic ability consisted of loud, indiscriminate noises. It also means that the many different species living on Earth did not have contemporary names.
That’s why the discovery of new dinosaurs is always an exciting moment for the English language. A new, albeit very old, breed of dinosaur means a new piece of linguistic dexterity for the Palaeontologists involved. I always enjoy the thought that the name by which we subsequently know these creatures is something that would never have been near the consciousness of the animals themselves during their heyday.
Last year Wordability celebrated the discovery of the Nyasasaurus, and this year, it is actually time to mark a new pterosaur, rather than a dinosaur. The Vectidraco daisymorrisae was a small flying reptile. Its discovery came about when a five-year-old girl found a fossil on a beach on the Isle of Wight in 2009, with scientists now confirming its novelty.
The name Vectidraco means ‘Dragon from the Isle of Wight’, and daisymorrisae pays tribute the finder, Daisy Morris.
So a creature which flew around the earth millions of years ago is named after a land mass which probably didn’t exist then and a person who definitely didn’t. Not something which would ever have occurred to Vectidraco daisymorrisae during its lifetime.