Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World
Author: Shelley Emling
Pubpsher: St. Martin's Press
Category: Biography & Autobiography
At a time when women were excluded from science, a young girl made a discovery that marked the birth of paleontology and continues to feed the debate about evolution to this day. Mary Anning was only twelve years old when, in 1811, she discovered the first dinosaur skeleton--of an ichthyosaur--while fossil hunting on the cliffs of Lyme Regis, England. Until Mary's incredible discovery, it was widely believed that animals did not become extinct. The child of a poor family, Mary became a fossil hunter, inspiring the tongue-twister, "She Sells Sea Shells by the Seashore." She attracted the attention of fossil collectors and eventually the scientific world. Once news of the fossils reached the halls of academia, it became impossible to ignore the truth. Mary's peculiar finds helped lay the groundwork for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, laid out in his On the Origin of Species. Darwin drew on Mary's fossilized creatures as irrefutable evidence that life in the past was nothing like life in the present. A story worthy of Dickens, The Fossil Hunter chronicles the life of this young girl, with dirt under her fingernails and not a shilling to buy dinner, who became a world-renowned paleontologist. Dickens himself said of Mary: "The carpenter's daughter has won a name for herself, and deserved to win it." Here at last, Shelley Emling returns Mary Anning, of whom Stephen J. Gould remarked, is "probably the most important unsung (or inadequately sung) collecting force in the history of paleontology," to her deserved place in history.
I wish to call the attention of the reader of my story “The Life of a Fossil Hunter” to the fact that I am under obligations especially to Prof. Henry Fairfield Osborn, President and Curator of Paleontology of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He has supplied me with many of the most beautiful of the illustrations that illumine these pages and has assisted the work in many ways.
Janet Ivey, Emmy-award winning PBS children's TV host and president of Explore Mars, tells the fascinating story of Mary Anning, the fossil hunter from Lyme Regis, England who introduced to the moder world a revolutionary, scientific approach to understanding prehistoric life. Using the device of a letter written from Mary at the end of her life to Mary herself as a young child, Janet narrates Mary's story punctuated with illustrations and fun facts in an engaging way from start to finish. The older Mary describes her great discoveries, her friendships with notable scientists, and her love of exploration. At the end, Mary Anning invites the reader to write "A Letter to Your Genius Self" which encourages the child to consider her talents and dreams for the future.
This volume attempts to set the record straight on published criticisms and mistakes, also provides information on side businesses that have never been discussed in print, and delves into the lives of the three prominent sons who followed him into the fossil profession. All of the sons became quite prominent in both American and Canadian fossil hunting lore, and were connected with prestigious museums. Includes photographs.
Description: This is the first modern biography of Mary Anning of Lyme Regis (England) the first woman and one of the very first professional paleontologists. Goodhue's research fills in the personal and professional accomplishments of this eminent Victorian.