Mary Anning was a British fossil collector, dealer, and paleontologist (before there was paleontology). Her studies challenged the bible-based view of creation, and her gender and status challenged what a scientists should be. The fossils she found proved that there was something before man, which upset the established narrative of the history of life on Earth. The British Journal for the History of Science describes her as “the greatest fossilist the world ever knew.”
Her fossils became the evidence of a new idea in science: extinction. French anatomist Georges Cuvier had argued this after analyzing mammoth fossils, but many explained his idea away, saying these creatures still existed somewhere else on Earth. Extinction would imply God’s creation was imperfect. However, Anning’s findings were evidence towards Cuvier’s hypothesis—that whole species have disappeared in Earth’s history.
During her life, Anning received little recognition for her work. She lived in a time when women couldn’t vote or attend university. As a woman of low social status, she had trouble receiving the respect of her peers and even getting credit for her finds in the scientific community.
“She says the world has used her ill … these men of learning have sucked her brains, and made a great deal of publishing works, of which she furnished the contents, while she derived none of the advantages,” wrote Anna Pinney, a woman who accompanied Anning when she would go in search for fossils along the cliffs.
Portrait of Mary Anning/Wikipedia
ichthyosaur skull by Everard Home/ Wikipedia
Read the full article: She Discovered Jurassic Dinosaur Fossils that Challenged Bible-Based Creationism | Big Think