Mary Anning: A Life
Did you Know that Mary Anning was one of the best fossil hunters of all time? But this clever girl wasn’t always respected like she is now!
Back in those days, nobody really appreciated female scientists and their work wasn’t taken seriously. Over the years, Mary Anning’s story has been told, and people realised she was a brilliant scientist. Nowadays, she has been studied by millions of scientists and has inspired lots of other females.
Mary Anning was born on May 21st 1799, in Lyme Regus, near the cliffs. When Mary was a few months old, she got struct by lightning. Although her nurse died, Mary was a strong baby and survived the impossible. Sadly, her family were very poor, and she couldn’t go to school. Mary had nine other siblings, but only one survived: Joseph- her older brother. She was the daughter of Mary Moore and Richard Anning. Her Father worked in a carpenter’s shop near their house. Mary loved to go looking for fossils (which they called Curiosities because they didn’t know what they were) and they lived next to a big beach.
Her First Fossil
When she was eight, Mary found her first fossil. With the help of her Father, she found the beautiful snake stone (which nowadays is known as an Ammonite Fossil). Her father made it into an adorable necklace that she wore all the time. After that, she started searching for lots of curiosities and by the minute her room was filled with beautiful stones. Soon enough, she realised she should put the fossils on display.
One normal afternoon, Mary was showing off her Curiosities, when two sisters, who had strawberry blonde hair came walking in: the Philpots. The Philpot sisters were twenty-year-old scientists that collected fossils of their own. Because their family was rich, the sisters were able to go to school and became famous scientists. When they came to Mary, they asked her if they could have
the glass case for their display. Curiously, they looked at her fabulous fossils with an amazed face. WOW! They thought. She is a great finder like we are.
They also told her to visit their shop to see their fossils. When Mary came over, she was amazed with all the Curiosities they had found. The Philpot sisters had so many fossils that they sold, but they still had lots. She made her target the number of fossils that they collected. After she saw the stones, she thanked them for their kindness and for inspiring her.
In 1813, Richard Anning died from a very bad illness. Mary was only twelve at the time, and she was heartbroken. Apart from Joseph, he was her only best friend. Everyday, at night, she would go to his grave and would look at the lemon sliced moon.
Still heartbroken, Mary would still enjoy fossil hunting. Every time she would find a Curiosity, she would know how proud he would be. Sadly, her family were getting poorer by the minute. One day, Mary was thinking about the Philpot sisters: she wondered how she could become like them one day; that would be a dream come true. Suddenly, an idea came into her head like a balloon popping: she could sell her fossils. Every famous fossil scientist started by selling their fossils. Her idea was brilliant. She set up her stall next to her house and put every fossil she found for sale except her Ammonite necklace. She carefully placed them on to her glass case. Soon enough her shop was packed. Even though she sold nearly all her fossils, her family would still sleep hungry.
When Mary Anning was only twelve, she found one of the greatest discoveries. She found Ickthyosaur (an extinct shark fossil). But this great discovery, wasn’t in her shop for selling. Mary Anning put her large fossil on display, for people to admire. From that day on, every scientist would come to look at the wonderful Curiosity. Unfortunately, even though she found the Ichthyosaur, a male scientist took credit.
Out of the blue, Mary Moore died. It was 1842, and Mary was only 41. The cause of her death was a terrible disease: breast cancer.
As Mary grew up, she realised that she wasn’t a normal person, and no normal person could find that many fossils. So, Mary Anning carried on finding lots of discoveries and became more famous than she ever was. She became known as a female scientist and inspired a lot of other scientists like Charles Darwin.
Breast cancer ran in her family because in 1847, Mary Anning had breast cancer causing her to die. She was only 46 and nobody could save this poor woman. She is now recognised as a fossil icon because of fossil research.