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She Sells Seashells

Written by Robyn Tatchell on

We all know the tongue twister she sells sea shells by the sea shore but do you know the inspirational lady behind it?

Mary Anning was an incredible Dorset woman. Born into poverty in 1799 Mary became a fossil collector, dealer and palaeontologist, Mary’s findings contributed to many important changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the earth.

Living in Lyme Regis along the Jurassic coast she would often go out just after storms to search for fossils in the rock fall. With her brother, Mary was the first person to uncover a full Ichthyosaurus skeleton whilst she was still a child. Later she was also able to uncover a complete Plesiosaurus and a very rare Dimorphoden and various other prehistoric creatures. Although she made many important discoveries because she was a woman Mary was unable to fully participate in the scientific community of 19th Century Britain, and because of this Mary struggled financially for most of her life.

In 2010, 163 years after her death the Royal Society included Anning into the list of the ten British women who have most influenced the history of science.

To find out more about Mary Anning and her fantasic discoveries head to the Lyme Regis Museum, or go and see her life commemorated by a stained glass window in St Michaels Parish church in Lyme Regis. 

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Robyn Tatchell

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