In 2008 the Morris family discovered the fossil remains of Vectidraco daisymorrisae on the Isle of Wight off England’s southern coast. The remains were eroding from a cliff on the island’s southwest coast, from sediments of the Lower Cretaceous Atherfield Clay Formation. It was named and described in 2013 by paleontologists Darren Naish, Martin Simpson, and Gareth Dyke. The name translates to “Daisy Morris’s [Isle of] Wight Dragon,” and honors five-year-old Daisy Morris, who found the first remains.
The specimen consists of a well-preserved pelvis and associated vertebrae. Naish and colleagues concluded that the individual was nearly fully grown at death and was remarkably small with a wingspan of just 75 cm (2.5 feet).
Naish and colleagues were unable to determine the evolutionary relationships of Vectidraco using existing phylogenetic analyses because most used no pelvic characters. To remedy this, they compiled a list of 23 pterosaur pelvic characteristics that could be compared in different pterosaur species. The scientists ran two analyses, one using the 23 pelvic characteristics by themselves, and another by adding those characteristics to an existing analysis. In both cases, Vectidraco was found to be an azhdarchoid, a diverse lineage of usually toothless terrestrial-adapted Cretaceous species. The analysis using only pelvic characteristics found that Vectidraco may have been a tapejarid, a family of fruit-eating azhdarchoids.
When Vectidraco lived 120 million years ago southern England was under shallow water, with a few large nearby islands. Although the specimen was found in marine sediments, Vectidraco probably fed on land like most azhdarchoids.