Mary Anning
(1799-1847)

woman and fossilist

Died aged c. 48

Mary Anning (21 May 1799 – 9 March 1847) was an English fossil collector, dealer, and palaeontologist who became known around the world for finds she made in Jurassic marine fossil beds in the cliffs along the English Channel at Lyme Regis in the county of Dorset in Southwest England. Anning's findings contributed to changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth. Anning searched for fossils in the area's Blue Lias and Charmouth Mudstone cliffs, particularly during the winter months when landslides exposed new fossils that had to be collected quickly before they were lost to the sea. Her discoveries included the first correctly identified ichthyosaur skeleton; the first two nearly complete plesiosaur skeletons; the first pterosaur skeleton located outside Germany; and fish fossils. Her observations played a key role in the discovery that coprolites, known as bezoar stones at the time, were fossilised faeces, and she also discovered that belemnite fossils contained fossilised ink sacs like those of modern cephalopods. As a Dissenter and a woman, Anning was not able to fully participate in the scientific community of 19th-century Britain, who were mostly Anglican gentlemen, and she struggled financially for much of her life. As a woman, she was not eligible to join the Geological Society of London and she did not always receive full credit for her scientific contributions. However her friend, geologist Henry De la Beche, who painted Duria Antiquior, the first widely circulated pictorial representation of a scene from prehistoric life derived from fossil reconstructions, based it largely on fossils Anning had found, and sold prints of it for her benefit. Anning became well known in geological circles in Britain, Europe, and America, and was consulted on issues of anatomy as well as fossil collecting. The only scientific writing of hers published in her lifetime appeared in the Magazine of Natural History in 1839, an extract from a letter that Anning had written to the magazine's editor questioning one of its claims. After her death in 1847, Anning's unusual life story attracted increasing interest. An anonymous article about Anning's life was published in February 1865 in Charles Dickens' literary magazine All the Year Round. The profile, "“Mary Anning, The Fossil Finder," was long attributed to Dickens himself but, in 2014, historians of paleontology Michael A. Taylor and Hugh S. Torrens identified Henry Stuart Fagan as the author, noting that Fagan’s work was “neither original nor reliable” and “introduced errors into the Anning literature which are still problematic.” Specifically, they noted that Fagan had largely and inaccurately plagiarized his article from an earlier account of Anning’s life and work by Dorset native, , from the second edition of Brown's 1859 guidebook, The Beauties of Lyme Regis.

DbPedia
Wikidata Wikipedia

Commemorated on 2 plaques

Mary Anning 1799-1847 The famous fossilist was born here in a house on the site of Lyme Regis Museum. The house was her home & her fossil shop until 1826. More about Mary Anning inside the Museum. Mary Anning's house and shop drawn in 1842. It was demolished in 1889 to make way for the museum

Lyme Regis Museum, Lyme Regis, United Kingdom where they was born (1799), lived near , and had her fossil shop

In a house on this site Mary Anning (1799-1847) died March 9th 1847

Lyme Bay Surf, 28 Broad Street, Lyme Regis, United Kingdom where they died (1847)