Mary Anning Facts

Mary Anning Facts
Mary Anning (May 21, 1799 to March 9, 1847) was a British fossil collector and paleontologist. She made important finds in the Jurassic marine fossil beds in the cliffs along the English Channel. The fossils she found changed scientific thinking about natural history.
Interesting Mary Anning Facts:
Mary Anning was born in Lyme Regis, England to a cabinet maker who scoured the cliffs for fossils to sell to tourists.
Although her family was very poor, she learned to read and write at a Congregationalist Sunday school where her family were members.
Lyme Regis was a popular vacation destination and the local population had mined the cliffs for curios to sell to the tourists.
The coastal cliffs were part of a geological formation known as the Blue Lias and is made of layers of limestone and shale.
It is one of England's richest fossil beds however the cliffs are unstable and dangerous.
In 1811 Mary and her brother, Joseph, found a 17 foot ichthyosaur skeleton which they sold for 23 pounds.
Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas James Birch was a steady and important customer and it was he who made the family famous when he gave the skeleton to William Bullock for display in London.
On December 10, 1823 she found the first complete Plesiosaurus and in 1828 the first pterosaur.
Although self-taught she became a respected paleontologist and her technical illustrations were very detailed and accurate.
In 1826 money from sale of her fossils allowed her to open a shop, Anning's Fossil Depot, which was visited by important geologists from Europe and New York.
In 1839 she wrote to the Magazine of Natural History to question the claim it made of the discovery of a new genus and the magazine printed an extract of her letter.
Her fame was such that William Buckland, geology lecturer at Oxford, frequently hunted fossils with her.
She shared with him the important scientific discovery that the strange bezoar stones were the really fossilized feces of dinosaurs.
Henry De la Beche was one of Britain's leading geologists and a childhood friend of Anning.
Thanks to her friend, William Buckland, the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the British government recognized her great contributions and awarded her a civil list pension in the amount of 25 pounds a year.
After her death from breast cancer, the president of the Geological Society gave a eulogy at the society meeting which was the first time a eulogy was given for a woman.
In 2009 the Royal Society included Anning in its list of ten British women who have most influenced the history of science.


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