Mary Anning was born in 1799 in Lyme Regis, Dorset. This area in southwest England is now known as the Jurassic Coast, and discoveries are still being made to this day. Mary was a pioneering palaeontologist and fossil collector. Her lifetime was a constellation of firsts.
Mary's father, Richard, was a cabinetmaker and amateur fossil collector. He taught her how to look for and clean the fossils they would find together on the beach. He often displayed and sold them from his shop.
After Richard died suddenly in 1810, Mary's mother, Molly, encouraged her to help pay off the family's debts by selling her finds.
Around 1811, when Mary was 12, her brother found this fossilised skull. Mary then searched for and painstakingly dug the outline of its 5.2-metre-long skeleton.
Scientists thought this was a crocodile. At the time most people assumed that unearthed, unrecognisable creatures had simply migrated to far-off lands.
Georges Cuvier, known as the 'father of palaeontology', had only recently introduced the theory of extinction. Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species was not for another 48 years.
Despite her growing reputation for finding and identifying fossils, the scientific community was hesitant to recognise her work.
Male scientists often did not credit her discoveries in their scientific papers, even when writing about her groundbreaking Ichthyosaur find.
The Geological Society of London refused to admit her - in fact, they didn't admit women until 1904.
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