Mary Anning (1799—1847) was a pioneering palaeontologist. Born in Lyme Regis, Dorset, she was introduced to fossil collecting on the Jurassic Coast by her father, an amateur fossil hunter. This was a Georgian pastime and after he died, she sold her finds, as he had done, to help support the family. When she was 12, she discovered a 5.2 metre-long skeleton which became known as the Ichthyosaurus, an ocean dwelling reptile which lived about 200 million years ago. Her discovery contributed to palaeontology becoming established as a scientific discipline. The Ichthyosaurus skeleton was destroyed in the Second World War, but recently casts have been identified at the Yale Peabody Museum, USA and the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin. In 1823, Anning discovered the complete skeleton of a Plesiosaurus, but the scientific community was reluctant to recognise her work. The Geological Society of London, which did not then accept women, refused to admit her. Five years later, she discovered the first pterosaur ever found outside Germany. These winged creatures, later known as Pterodactyls, are thought to be the largest ever flying animals. Anning also pioneered the study of coprolites (fossilised faeces). She is depicted here fossil hunting with her small dog, Tray. The statue was erected as a result of a crowd-funding campaign, ‘Mary Anning Rocks’ started by local school girl, Evie Swire. It is sited looking over the cliff, Black Ven, where Anning found most of her fossils.
Location: Junction of Long Entry and Gun Cliff Walk, Lyme Regis, Dorset