She sells seashells by the seashore. This is one of the most famous tongue twisters around, but did you know it has to do with paleontology? This little phrase is about one of my life-long heroes, Mary Anning.
Mary Anning was the first woman paleontologist and is responsible for some of the greatest aquatic reptile finds ever! Born in 1779 in Lyme Regis, England, She made her first large discovery at the age of twelve, the skeleton of an ichthyosaur, and she changed science forever. Mary combed the Jurassic Coast until her final days. Her list of a accomplishments include discovering the first correctly identified ichthyosaur skeleton and the first two nearly complete plesiosaur skeletons. Sadly, Mary was born into a time where women were rarely accepted in academic roles. At the time she didn’t receive credit for these discoveries. Mary Anning died in Lyme Regis in 1847, and is considered by many the mother of fossil hunting. This phenomenal hero of science finally got the recognition she deserved in 2010, when The Royal Society named her one of the ten most influential British women in science.
Mary Anning was an amazing woman whose work is still celebrated nearly 250 years later. Learning about Mary inspired me to follow my dream of pursuing paleontology. So here’s a big thank you Mary, from all of us paleontology fans!