Portrait of Mary Anning, c. 1842
So far all of our Naturalists have dealt with the living animals that they saw during their studies and travels. Today we'll mix that up a bit and learn all about a woman who made some pretty awesome contributions to Paleontology... some of which she did when she was only twelve years old!
Mary Anning was born in Dorset, England in 1799. Her parents had ten children, but only Mary and her brother Joseph lived to adulthood (Mary herself was actually named after an older sister of hers that died before she was born). From a young age Mary's father would take her and Joseph on fossil hunting trips to the nearby cliffs. They had the great luck to live near the Blue Lias, a geological formation in the cliffs that dated back to the Jurassic Period.
Anning's father died in 1810, leaving his family with next to nothing. Mary and Joseph continued to hunt for fossils, so that they could sell them for profit and support their family. Fossil hunting on these cliffs was dangerous work! Landslides were common during the winter, but that was