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Sunday, 20 November 2011

The third most influential British woman in the history of science!

Margaret Rose, Chairman of the Friends of Lyme Regis Museum as well as a Trustee of the Museum, sent this interesting snippet about Mary Anning:

To celebrate its 350th anniversary last year, and its commitment to the advancement of women in science, the Royal Society asked a panel of leading female scientists and science historians to vote for the ten most influential British women in the history of science. First came the astronomer Caroline Herschel; second came Mary Somerville, who started her experiments on magnetism in 1825; and third? None other than Mary Anning, ahead of such luminaries as Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first English female doctor, and Rosalind Franklin, whose work on the x-ray diffraction images of DNA was used to formulate Crick and Watson's 1953 hypothesis on its structure.

Said the Royal Society: "Mary Anning, the daughter of poor Dissenters, was an early British fossil collector and palaeontologist. She spent her life working in Lyme Regis. Her skill in locating and preparing fossils, as well as the richness of the Jurassic era marine fossil beds at Lyme Regis, resulted in her making a number of important finds. These included the skeleton of the first ichthyosaur to be recognised, and the first two plesiosaur skeletons ever found. Anning's gender and social class prevented her from fully participating in the scientific community of early 19th century Britain, and she did not always receive full credit for her contributions. Despite this she became well known in geological circles in Britain and beyond, although she struggled financially for much of her life. After her death her enormous contribution to palaeontology was largely forgotten."

 The photograph below shows "Mary Anning" (aka Natalie Manifold) in the Geology Gallery at Lyme Regis Museum.

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