She sells sea shells on the sea shore, you’ve heard the tongue twister, no doubt you’ll have slipped up on a word or two too, but did you know that it is based on a lady from Dorset and did you know that that lady is the reason why the region is so popular among fossil hunters? As Dinosaur Day falls on 15th May this year, we thought we’d take some time to remember Dorset’s finest fossil hunter, Mary Anning, who’s former home is now the Dinosaur Museum in Lyme Regis.

Dorset is incredibly lucky to fall along the Jurassic Coast which was designated as England’s first natural World Heritage site back in 2001. It is a beautiful place, full of dramatic rock formations and providing the perfect place for strolling along the beach with an ice cream while hunting in rock pools for glimpses of the region’s past. While we all wait for the chance to return to the Jurassic Coast and see it for ourselves, let’s talk about the person who really cemented this area’s association with the Jurassic period.

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Very nice prom that popped perfectly from it's rocky tomb. It's not really big but I really like the colours on it. I could see the worn edge sticking out of the rock and when I hit it it came out like this. It also has another prom on the back that I just noticed now when I was taking the picture. I'll definitely prep it one day. – – – #fossil #fossils #fossilhunting #fossilhunter #nature #paleo #palaeontology #paleontology #curiosity #ammonite #ammonites #ancient #jurassic #jurassiccoast #lymeregis #geology #geologist #rock #fossiloftheday #beachcomber #beachcombing #promicroceras #collection #prom #marryanning #marryanningmonday

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So, who was Mary Anning?

Mary Anning was born in Lyme Regis on 21st May 1799.

Her father made cabinets during the day and in his spare time would search for fossils around the town which he then sold to help supplement his income. He and his family, which included his wife and their two children, Mary and Joseph, in a house just above the old sea wall, you can still visit it, it’s where the Lyme Regis Museum is now and there is a handy blue plaque on the wall so you can’t miss it.

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Proud that the museum is on the site that Mary Anning’s house and fossil shop once stood. Come into the museum and learn about her life and the lives of other people who have lived in or been inspired by Lyme Regis, from fossil hunters through to famous writers. #visitdorset #exploredorset #lymeregis #UKcoast #swcoastalpath #lovedorset #dorsetcoast #lovefordorset #maryanning #swcoastpath #dorsetlife #dorsethour #lyme #dorset #westdorset #socialhistory #localhistory #lymecommunity #igersdorset #blueplaque #ukheritage #fossilhunter #fossilcollector #dorsethistory #southwest #thingstodoindorset #museums #historicengland

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Fossil hunting soon became a family affair, Mary and Joseph would often go with their father while he was out hunting and she eventually would go off on her own fossil hunting missions around the Dorset coastline.  This led her to making many important scientific discoveries, including the first complete Ichthyosaur skeleton and the first hint of Pterosaurs. She had a huge impact on the palaeontology and how scientists understand prehistoric life. Sadly, because this was the Victorian era and Mary was both a woman and working class, she only had access to a limited education and rarely got the credit that she deserved. In fact, despite her extensive work in the field, only two fossils ended up being named after her.

Despite not being allowed into university or the Geological Society of London, many geologists around the world admired her work and this led to many of them coming to Dorset to discuss her findings in her shop, Anning’s Fossil Depot, you can find evidence of this in the town too.

Mary died in 1847 and was finally acknowledged by the Royal Society for her contributions to science in 2010.

We may not be able to go fossil hunting at the moment, but this Dinosaur Day, why not make a list of places in Dorset that you can head out searching when we get the all clear? Lyme Regis is a great place to start, plus there are plenty of places to stop off for some incredible Dorset edibles while you’re there!

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Here’s a Xiphoceras fossil we found on one of our walks a few months back. Such a rewarding find! If you want to have a go at finding your own fossils, we have fossil hunting kits in our museum shop. #Lymeregis #visitdorset #dorset #fossilhunting #beachcombing #museum #museums #beachfinds #lyme #dorset #dorsetcoast #Fossil #Fossilcollection #Fossils #Jurassic #Jurassiccoast #jurrassiccoastline #Xiphoceras #Ammonite #Ammonites #Geologyrocks #Geology #Dinosaurs #fossilhunter #Prehistoric #Naturalhistory #daysoutinengland

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Have you ever found fossils while on the beach in Lyme Regis? You can send us photos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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