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Call her Amelia: Flying reptile model gets a name

July 22 , 2016

by Simon Wheeler

A 40-foot wide, life-size model of Quetzalcoatlus will not be named Quetzy McQuetzface.

The Paleontological Research Institution, which runs the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, where the model of the 70 million-year-old flying reptile is on display, also did not chose Propertytaxicus as the creature's name.

At a news conference Wednesday morning in the museum, the reptile's name was revealed: Amelia.

Institution staff believe the name was suggested in honor of aviator Amelia Earhart, said Beth Stricker, director of exhibitions.

More than 100 names were submitted by museum visitors and online, and the winning entry was chosen by a panel of institution staff and community advisers.

The model of Quetzalcoatlus, the world's largest flying animal, was permanently transferred to PRI from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, in Washington, D.C., in 2015.

The reptile was part of three truckloads of exhibits received from the Smithsonian after it made plans to remodel its Museum of Natural History, and decided several models and dioramas would not be put back on display.

Warren Allmon, director of PRI, described the models as "historic works of art." Paleontologists at the Smithsonian were protective of the objects and wanted to find them a good home, he added.

The Museum of the Earth at PRI is looking to raise $200,000 to put all the donated items on permanent display in Ithaca. Of that, $50,000 has already been offered as a matching gift, Allmon said.

Five dioramas from the Smithsonian transfer are on display at the museum until late September. They will then be put into storage until a permanent exhibit can be built, Allmon said.

Quetzalcoatlus, a toothless pterosaur, lived about 66 million to 72 million years ago and was first discovered in the Big Bend area of Texas, Allmon said.

While not chosen as the creature's name, Quetzy McQuetzface was a popular choice, said Marissa Zuckerman, the manager of marketing and communications at PRI. "I think people just did it for fun," Zuckerman said.



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