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DinoChecker's Good Paleontologist Guide...

ANNING

Mary Anning
Date of Birth: May 21st, 1799
Place of Birth: Lyme Regis, England
Parents: Richard Anning and Mary ("Molly") Moore
Spouse: Never married
Date of death: March 9th, 1847
Place of death: Lyme Regis, England
Legacy: Plesiosaurus
Mary Anning
Rumour has it the well known tongue twister "she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore" may have been inspired by Mary Anning—one of ten children to Richard and Molly Anning and one of only two who lived to adulthood—although she didn't sell seashells on the seashore. She did, however, comb the beaches of Lyme Regis in search of fossilised booty, which she sold to museums to help support her poverty-stricken family.

In 1821 she discovered the worlds first ever Ichthyosaurus at the ripe old age of twelve, the first Plesiosaurus two years later and the first British specimen of a pterosaur five years after that, and while the sale of these and many other fossils afforded small financial boosts and the title of "first professional fossil collector" a steady stream of unfortunate events meant that cashflow was a recurring problem.

Risking life and limb on and under crumbling Lias cliffs (a landslide killed her terrier, Tray, in 1833 right beside her feet) Anning made a serious contribution to paleontology, but museum's refusal to credit pioneers unless they donated their finding for free means we will never know exactly how many ground-breaking discoveries she made. One thing is for sure, she got right on the establishment's nerves, and them her's, and was the cause of many groans in a world dominated by upper-class scholarly gents who received the lions share of credit for most discoveries whether they made them or not. Heck, women weren't even allowed to vote.

Mary's father, Richard—a cabinet maker-cum-fossil hunter—died in 1810 aged forty two which was the root of the families financial strife, and Mary didn't live to be much older. "A woman who, through reading and application, could hold her own with any professor" (Lady Harriet Silvester, 1824) died of breast cancer in 1847 aged just forty seven but not before she did her bit for Southern tourism and put Lyme Regis well and truly on the map as a fossil finding hotspot.
More Anning...
Patricia Pierce (2006) "Jurassic Mary: Mary Anning and the Primeval Monsters". /uk.
Discoveries and descriptions ...
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"ANNING :: from Dinochecker's good paleontologist guide"
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