She Was A Paleontologist Who Made Remarkable Discoveries, Even When Her Male Peers Attempted To Discredit Her

wittayayut - - illustrative purposes only

Were you taught about paleontologist Mary Anning in your science or history classes growing up? I wasn’t, but I’m thankful to have come across her story now, especially since she was a woman who made remarkable discoveries, even when her peers tried to discredit her.

Mary Anning was born in 1799 in Lyme Regis, England. Lyme Regis is a seaside town famous for its geology and fossils and is now a part of what’s called the ‘Jurassic Coast.’

Mary’s love for paleontology came from her father, Richard. Richard was a cabinetmaker and carpenter but would make additional money by mining for fossils near their town and selling his discoveries.

As a little girl, Mary would join her father in looking for fossils, and he taught her everything he knew about finding, cleaning, and selling them.

Mary and her siblings didn’t receive much of a traditional education, but she knew how to read and would study geology and anatomy independently. As she got older, she would go on more fossil-finding outings with her father and older brother, Joesph. 

When Richard died in 1810, Mary and the rest of her family dedicated most of their time to finding and selling fossils to support themselves. They often discovered things like ammonites, belemnites, and vertebrae.

It’s important to note that Mary and her family did this work before major science texts like Darwin’s The Origin of Species were published. Everything they collected and sold was bits and pieces of crucial scientific history and findings. 

In 1817, Lieut. Col. Thomas Birch became one of Annings’ most prominent supporters and bought several of their findings to help support them.

Further down the line, he auctioned off his collection and donated the earnings to Mary’s family. 

wittayayut – – illustrative purposes only

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