Saturday, 20 June 2009

Mary Annings Pterodactyle

On 21st May 1799, Mary Anning was born, daughter of Richard and Mary Anning of Lyme Regis, Dorset, England. During her life she collected curiosities from the beach at Lyme Regis and nearby coastal areas. She became a very proficient and knowledgeable collector of fossils and made a number of remarkable discoveries. She often referred to experts for advice and support and her main sources were William Buckland, Henry de la Beche and William Conybeare, who were able to develop their reputations on many of Mary's discoveries.
In 1828, Mary discovered a fossil pterodactyle (later named Dimorphodon macronyx) which she discussed with William Buckland. Buckland wrote a paper on this fossil and it was known to be the finest of the English pterodactyles. The remains are now in the Natural History Museum, London.
Shortly after the discovery, her brother Joseph made a sketch of the fossil skull. He used reconstituted belemnite ink from the finds on Lyme Regis Undercliff. This drawing is now held by the Philpot Museum, Lyme Regis - though neither the fossils or the sketch are on display as they are considered too valuable to be exposed to the public.
The remaining bones of the fossil find were almost a complete skeleton and an additional find revealed the whole of the animals tail. This was one of the few pterosaurs that enabled a complete reconstruction to be attempted. A second skeleton and skull (minus tail) gave a better insight into the association of the bones and over the years, several small bone finds have been made. Many of these are in private collections.

Thackray J. C. A., 1995, A catalogue of portraits, paintings and sculpture at the Natural History Museum London. Mansell: London. xii, 70pp.

Torrens H. S., 1995, Mary Anning (1799-1847) of Lyme : ‘the greatest fossilist the world ever knew’. British Journal for the History of Science, Vol. 28, pp.257-284.

Buckland W. 1829, On the discovery of a new species of pterodactyle in the Lias at Lyme Regis. Trans. geol. Soc. Lond. ser. 2, 3, 217–222, pl. 27.

Padian K, 1983, Osteology and functional morphology of Dimorphodon macronyx (Buckland) (Pterosauria: Rhamphorhynchoidea). Based on new material in the Yale Peabody Museum. Postilla 189.
Pierce P., 2006, Jurassic Mary, Mary Anning and the Primeval Monsters. Sutton Pp238.

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