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Patricia Pierce

Jurassic Mary

In the early part of the nineteenth century a lone figure could often be seen walking along the shoreline at Lyme Regis. This was Mary Anning searching for fossils, and in Jurassic Mary: Mary Anning and the Primeval Monsters, Patricia Pierce tells her story. Although she was often seen as eccentric, Mary Anning in fact found a substantial proportion of the fossils that were put on display in this period, and in particular some of the large reptiles which advanced the study of paleontology. But, despite Anning's extensive knowledge of the subject, the credit for the discoveries generally went to those learned gentlemen who bought the specimens from her.

Pierce often makes the point that Anning was hard done by in this respect, but I felt that the book could have done with a more in depth discussion of this point. Was it that Anning was a working class woman, or did people feel that paying for a specimen gave them the right to credit? In fact the book does seem to lack a central thread, tending to jump around from one encounter to another. But it's easy to read and it does have plenty of information about Mary Anning's life and the consequences of her finds. If you want to know how one woman's work had a crucial effect of the development of the science of paleontology then you'll find much of interest in this book.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 256 pages  
ISBN: 0750940395
Salesrank: 4476684
Weight:0.93 lbs
Published: 2006 The History Press
Marketplace:New from $750.00:Used from $73.84
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 256 pages  
ISBN: 0750940395
Salesrank: 245043
Weight:0.93 lbs
Published: 2006 The History Press
Marketplace:New from £87.95:Used from £11.18
Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 256 pages  
ISBN: 0750940395
Salesrank: 1992435
Weight:0.93 lbs
Published: 2006 Sutton Publishing Ltd
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 142.64:Used from CDN$ 30.89
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Product Description

The life of one of the pioneers of the emerging science of geology whose discoveries were often credited in her time to others, due to her gender and class

Mary Anning (1799-1847) was one of the pioneers of the emerging science of geology, and the first woman palaeontologist to make important discoveries. When she was just 12, she discovered the first whole ichthyosaurus skeleton; later, aged 22, she found the first whole skeleton of a plesiosaurus, and this find gained her international fame. She was unusual then—as she would be now—in being a woman geologist, and she was also a curiosity in being both provincial and lower class when science was dominated by upper class London gentlemen. During her lifetime she won the respect of contemporary scientists, receiving an annuity from the British Association for the Advancement of Science during the last decade of her life. Upon her death, Dickens wrote "the carpenter's daughter has won a name for herself, and deserved to win it." After her death, however, scientists wrote her out of their books, crediting instead the naturalists who had bought her specimens with her discoveries. It was inconceivable to them that an uneducated woman had produced such astonishing work. This biography rescues the now little-known life of this extraordinary woman from undeserved obscurity to reveal her full and fascinating life.