Mary Anning’s – The Fossil Collector

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Mary Anning Fossils

On May 21, 2014 Google paid tribute to Mary Anning with a Google Doodle on their New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, South Korea , Philippines, India, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Algeria, Romania, Serbia, Poland, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Morocco, Iceland, Columbia, Canada and Unites Stated of America search engine homepages.

Mary Anning

The tribute to “Mary Anning” shows Mary Anning busy on an archeology site. She was a British fossil collector, dealer and paleontologist world renowned and famous for several of the greatest archaeology and fossil finds in the world. She lived in the late 18th century born on May 21, 1799 in Lyme Regis, Dorset in England. She died of Breast Cancer on May 9, 1847 at the Age of 47.

She was one of ten children. Her father Richard was a cabinetmaker who supplemented his income by mining the coastal cliff-side fossil beds near the town, and selling his finds to tourists. Possibly the reason why Mary Anning found her passion for fossils and archeology.

Folklore and Legend of Mary Anning

On 19 August 1800, when Mary Anning was 15 months old, an event occurred that became part of local folklore of Lyme Regis her birth town. Her neighbor Elizabeth Haskings were holding Mary Anning in her arms while standing outside with two other women under an elm tree watching an equestrian show being put on by a travelling company of horsemen when lightning struck the tree killing all three women.

Mary Anning was rushed to her home, where she was placed in a bath of hot water where her helpers were able to revive her. One of the Doctors who checked her health after the lightning strike declared her survival a miracle.  Many people in Lyme Regis declared that they attribute her unusual high intelligence to the event, and that the event caused her curiosity, intelligence and lively personality directly to the lighting strike event!

Mary Anning Education

Although very bright and intelligent Mary Anning’s did not receive the best of formal education. She was mostly toughed how to read and write by the Congregationalist Sunday school in Lyme Regis. This gave her somewhat an advantage above many other kids of her time, especially the kids who could not receive formal education as part of the Church of England’s policies at the time who believed only the rich should be educated.

She received a book from the church in which the local pastor James Wheaton was a contributor, one of his contributions included a piece on how God created the earth in six days and another urging Christians to study geology. It is believed that this piece had such a big impact on Mary Annings that she took it to heart, and that this is part of the reason why she lived so passionately in search of fossils, and dedicated to archeology and the preservation of bones.

Mary Anning the Fossil hunter

The town Lyme Regis was known long before Mary Anning became famous to be very rich in fossil deposits, and many locals made a business of selling currios “fossils” to tourists who visited the town. These included colorful fossil’s with interesting names like “Snake Stones”, “Devil Fingers” and “Verteberries”.  According to word-of-mouth and folklore many people believed that these fossils had medicinal value, and it were used in several health potions, making them even more popular. Her father, Richard, often took Mary Anning and her brother Joseph on fossil-hunting expeditions to make more money for the family.

Their first well-known find was in 1811, when Mary Anning was 12, her brother Joseph dug up a 4-foot ichthyosaur skull and a few months later, Mary Anning found the rest of the skeleton. It was sold to William Bullock, a well-known fossil collector, who later displayed it in London. The ichthyosaur skull helped raised awareness of the age of the earth and the link between fossils, archeology and the real age of the earth.

Mary Anning found, collected and made famous many of the fossils in existence today, her interest and persistence helped document fossils, and the important link between fossils and the earth’s history. Mary Anning is considered by many to be one of the biggest women influencers and contributors to the history of biology and science.

Mary Anning Fossils

The May 21, 2014 Google Doodle is very special and important to understanding our history!

 

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