MARY ANNING

British geologist (1799 - 1847)

She had no formal training but was a very astute observer who contributed greatly to the paleontological collections of her day. She found the first complete ichthyosaur skeleton in 1811, a nearly complete plesiosaur and the first British pterodactyl in 1828 as well as the Squaloraja fossil fish (a transitional link between sharks and rays) and finally the Plesiosaurus macrocephalus. Although she came from an untutored background she won the respect of scholars. A annotation from Lady Harriet Silvester said:

"the extraordinary thing in this young woman is that she had made herself so thoroughly acquainted with the science that the moment she finds any bones she knows to what tribe they belong. . . . by reading and application she has arrived to that greater degree of knowledge as to be in the habit of writing and talking with professors and other clever men on the subject, and they all acknowledge that she understands more of the science than anyone else in this kingdom. "

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