Mary Anning was born on 21 May 1799 in Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, as a daughter of Mary ‘Molly’ Moore Anning and cabinetmaker Richard Anning. Her father frequently took Mary and her brother Joseph on fossil-hunting expeditions. To help their family make ends meet, they would place their discoveries on a table outside their home and offer them for sale to tourists. When Mary was 11 years of age, her father passed on. Mary Anning and her brother Joseph Anning (born 1796) were the only two of the ten children in the family to survive into adulthood. She continued in the family fossil hunting business, discovering skeletons of Jurassic marine animals including ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, pterosaurs, and various fishes in the collapsing seaside cliffs along the English channel. In 1826, at 27 years of age, she opened the Anning’s Fossil Depot, where she displayed and sold her fossil finds. Mary would eventually become known as one of the most famous of all fossil hunters, dealers, and paleontologists. However, during her lifetime, she was never taken as seriously as perhaps she could have been because she was a woman from a poor background, while most scientists at the time were men from wealthy families. Mary Anning passed on at 47 years of age on 9 March 1847 in Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, and rests in Saint Michael the Archangel Churchyard, Lyme Regis, Dorset, England. In an article in the February 1865 edition of his magazine, “All the Year Round,” Charles Dickens said of her, “The carpenter’s daughter has won a name for herself, and has deserved to win it.”
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