Mary Anning: Four Things About The Inspirational Geologist And Palaeontologist

14/08/2014 16:44 | Updated 20 May 2015

Sometimes we all need another person's story to inspire and keep us working towards our goals. Today, that person is geologist and palaeontologist Mary Anning.

You may have never even heard her name, but the Dorset native - who died in 1847 - was pivotal in developing our knowledge about the Jurassic period, thanks to the discoveries she made in the marine fossil beds in Lyme Regis (pictured below).

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Kind of puts our obsession with Kim Kardashian (and what she actually does) into perspective, no?

Here are four things about Anning - a woman who made a difference to history and is only really being recognised for her contribution now...

1. She came from humble beginnings. Annings family were poor, and due to this her education was a simple affair. She learned to read and write at Sunday School and her interest in fossils was nurtured by her father, who took her fossil hunting in a bid to make more money for their family.

2. Her obsession with finding fossils was pretty dangerous at the time. Particularly in winter, when on one occasion the weather resulted in a landslide so bad Anning was lucky to escape alive, and lost her dog in the process.

3. Male palaeontologists piggy-backed on her discoveries. Anning is credited with finding the first two plesiosaur skeletons and the first pterosaur skeleton outside of Germany, to name just two of her achievements. However, due to her gender and the fact palaeontology was dominated by wealthy men, she was not given credit and had to rely on a friend - geologist Henry De La Beche - to bring her discoveries to the attention of the scientific community.

4. Her achievements were not acknowledged until after her death. Despite making landmark discoveries in her field, Anning was not acknowledged by the Royal Society as a woman who influenced the history of science until 2010.


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