Mary Anning



December 1823

December 1823, Mary made the first ever discovery of a complete Plesiosaurus skeleton. This was a truly amazing discovery that much so, many scientists refused to believe such a creature had ever existed -Georges Cuvier, declared it to be a fake saying the head was much too tiny to have ever belonged to the body. But after Cuvier had examined the fossilized creature, he declared: “It is the most amazing creature ever discovered.” The discovery made Anning’s name and people came from far and wide to visit her.

Year for Discoveries And The Flying Reptile


First there was the ink bag of Belemnoidea fossils. The fact that they had ink bags and could squirt ink was discovered by Mary. Belemnoidea were similar to modern squid or cuttlefish which had 10-arms. Mary found that the ink in the bags had survived fossilization and could still be used in pens and Artists in the town began using Belemnoidea ink to draw pictures of fossils found in the area.
Mary Also found objects in the abdomens of ichthyosaurs, breaking some open, she found bones and fish scales. She realised she was handling fossilized feces (poop).
Mary soon discovered the first pterosaur found outside Germany. Her find was the first ever discovery of the Dimorphodon genus. This further boosted her fame, and brought even more visitors to see her.

And The Major Discoveries Continue


Mary found an even more complete plesiosaur fossil.
She then went on to discover Squaloraja, a fish that seemed to be part shark, part ray. This discovery ultimately helped support the "Chain of being" theory popular at the time.

Mary's Last Find


The last great find in Mary's career came when she discovered one of her most complete and beautiful fossilized creatures, Plesiosaurus macrocephalus. A cast of this fossil is on display at the Natural History Museum in Paris, France.
After this find Mary's career began to diminish.

Mother Mary More Dies.




Mary was becoming increasingly sick, she was later diagnosed with breast cancer. When the Geological Society’s members learned of her cancer, they started a fund that paid for her treatment. Mary was given a pain-killer. She refused to complain about her illness, so the townspeople of Lyme Regis mistook the effects of the pain-killers for drunkenness. They did not realize that Anning was dying from cancer.

The Death of Mary Anning

March 9, 1847

Mary Anning died, aged 47 from breast cancer. She was buried on 15 March in the churchyard of St. Michael's, the local parish church

Remembering Mary Anning


The Geological Society paid for a large stained glass window dedicated to her and this was unveiled in 1850. The window shows the six acts of mercy and the inscription reads: "This window is sacred to the memory of Mary Anning of this parish, who died 9 March AD 1847 and is erected by the vicar and some members of the Geological Society of London in commemoration of her usefulness in furthering the science of geology, as also of her benevolence of heart and integrity of life."