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Mary Anning: the Long Ride Home – Ichthyosaur Discovery

substack banner kristerIt’s hard to imagine what it must have been like for Mary Anning. She had just left school to help make ends meet for her mother and her brother told her about what looked to be a massive fossil out on the Lyme Regis cliffs near her home.

How could she dig it out without breaking? How could she even get it home? Her brother could help her after he finished his job as an apprentice, but that meant spending all day carefully isolating it from the surrounding rock, then finding a way (without money) to get the fossil home.

Hope you enjoy this little video.

Here’s a photo of the real thing in Lyme Regis.

Screen Shot 2023 05 24 at 9.26.20 AM

Paleontologists pondered at the time why the eye may have been so big.

At the time Oxford Professor William Buckland suggested that the ichthyosaur had owl-like eyes that may have suited it for deep ocean hunting. For those who are curious, the ichthyosaur is a prehistoric marine reptile, but not technically a dinosaur. Dinosaurs are earth-living reptiles that can walk upright, while icthyosaurs are ocean-dwelling reptiles that are related, but different.

Buckland was a friend of Mary’s, and worked with her to unravel many paleontological mysteries together. My choice for Buckland is a porcupine. He was known to be eccentric, and had a fondness for wearing his college gown everywhere, even on muddy fossil digs. More on Buckland later!


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