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The story of the first female Palaeontologist: Mary Anning

Who is a Palaeontologist?

A paleontologist studies fossils to get information about the history of life on Earth.

Mary Anning was born in 1799 in Lyme Regis in Dorset, England. Her family was poor and she had faced many hardships while growing up. 

From a young age, her father taught her to find and collect fossils. She continued doing that even after her father passed away. She would sell those fossils to tourists who visited the town.

When she was around 12 years old, Mary and her brother found the skeleton of a strange creature that looked like a fish-like crocodile.

Years later, we knew that it was an Ichthyosaurus, or fish lizard (a marine reptile that lived 194-201 million years ago). Mary’s discovery led to a lot of new studies.

After that, she found many more complete ichthyosaur skeletons as well as other fossils.

But during her lifetime, Mary was not recognized for her work by other scientists, who were mostly all men. She died at the age of 47, still poor and largely unrecognized.

But today, her achievements have been recognized – she is seen as the first female paleontologist.

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