A is for Mary Anning – Paleontologist #AtoZChallenge

A is for Mary Anning – Paleontologist

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++ A to Z of Notable Women in STEM ++

Mary Anning (1799 – 1847) was born in Lyme Regis along the southern shore of Great Britain. Cliffs at Lyme Regis are known world wide for incredible exposures of Jurassic rocks that are abundantly fossiliferous. Early in her life, she and her family supported themselves with fossil collection and sale from these cliffs. By the mid-1820’s, Mary was an accomplished anatomist and was essentially running the family fossil business.

Mary Anning and her dog, Tray. Credited to 'Mr. Grey' in Crispin Tickell's book 'Mary Anning of Lyme Regis' (1996)
Mary Anning and her dog, Tray. Credited to ‘Mr. Grey’ in Crispin Tickell’s book ‘Mary Anning of Lyme Regis’ (1996)

Anning is credited with collecting the first specimen of Ichthyosaurus, a marine reptile that is superficially rather dolphin-like (but is definitely not a dolphin).

Ichthyosaurus life reconstruction. Credit: Nobu Tamura CC BY 3.0
Ichthyosaurus life reconstruction.
Credit: Nobu Tamura CC BY 3.0

One of her greatest contributions to science was the discovery of the first specimens of a plesiosaur.

Letter and drawing from Mary Anning announcing the discovery of a fossil animal now known as Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus, 26 December 1823
Letter and drawing from Mary Anning announcing the discovery of a fossil animal now known as Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus, 26 December 1823

Read more on the University of California Museum of Paleontology’s website.

See more notable women of STEM in my contribution to the April A to Z blogging challenge for 2016.

Add your own “A”-named women to the list in the comments below!

Published by paleololigo

Scientist (Paleontology, Geochemistry, Geology); Writer (Speculative and Science Fiction, plus technical and non-technical Science); Mom to great boy on the Autism spectrum; possessor of too many hobbies.

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