Mary Anning

Imagine walking along some cliffs and finding a skeleton. But not just any skeleton, the first Ichthyosaurs skeleton! That’s what happened to Mary Anning. She also found skeletons of Plesiosaurus and Pterodactylus.

Mary Anning was born in May 21, 1799. She was known as the ‘the greatest fossilist the world ever knew’ for her finding of Ichthyosauurs and her many other finds.

Mary was born into a family with little money. When Mary Anning was only ten, her father died, leaving his family in debt. Her family turned fossil hunting into a business and made money by selling fossils to tourists at Lyme Regis, England, near where they lived. In 1811 she discovered a large fossil skull. She worked for over a year chipping away at the rock around it. By the time she was finished she discovered that the skeleton was seventeen feet long! It was Ichthyosaurus. That brought in 23 pounds and kept the family going for a while but it was not long before they had money trouble again. One day Thomas Birch took pity on the Anning family and decided to auction off his fossil collection and give the money to the Anning family. It helped draw attention to Mary’s discoveries and raised over 400 pounds.

Mary Anning died of breast cancer in March 9, 1847. During her life, she suffered many hardships and overcame them to become ‘the greatest fossilist the world ever knew.’ Some people say that, "She sells sea shells by the seashore," was written about Mary.

Image courtesy of: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/anning.html

For more information:
http://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/anning.html
http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/anning.html
http://www.strangescience.net/anning.htm 
http://www.lymeregismuseum.co.uk/fossils.htm

By Marcelo, fourth grade, 2006

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