|Mary Anning. Illustration by Laurie Caple for Giant Sea Reptiles of the Dinosaur Age by Caroline Arnold|
Last night I watched the movie Ammonite, about Mary Anning, the woman who made remarkable fossil discoveries of ancient giant sea reptiles along the English coast near Lyme Regis in the early 1800s. I have long been fascinated by Mary Anning and wrote about her in my book GIANT SEA REPTILES OF THE DINOSAUR AGE. It is illustrated with beautiful watercolor paintings by Laurie Caple. (The book is out of print. You can look for it at your library.)
Although Mary Anning had little formal education, she had an uncanny knack for finding fossils and for understanding how the bones fit together. After excavating her specimens, she carefully reconstructed them and made detailed drawings. She collected fossils for many of the leading scientists of the day. Her work helped develop new ideas about what the world was like in prehistoric times.
|Ammonites found at Lyme Regis|
Many of Mary Anning's discoveries are on display at the British Museum of Natural History in London. Several years ago I visited the museum and was surprised to find a Mary Anning's look-alike sharing some of the fossils with museum visitors. It almost seemed like meeting Mary Anning herself! You can read about that visit in my post at The Intrepid Tourist.