On May 21, 1799, Mary Anning was born in the coastal town of Lyme Regis, Dorset, England. Anning would acquire many nicknames, including the “princess of paleontology,” the “mother of paleontology,” and, according to the British Natural History Museum, “the greatest fossil hunter the world has ever known.”Anning lived on Britain’s so-called “Jurassic Coast,” where fossils are preserved in limestone and chalk. With only a keen eye and small hammer, Anning collected and expertly documented some of the first fossils of ancient reptiles that swam (such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs) and flew (pterosaurs.) She also became an expert in identifying trace fossils—preserved evidence of the presence of an ancient organism, such as footprints. In fact, she was among the first to recognize the trace fossils known as “bezoar stones” for what they were—fossilized feces.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry acquire Verb
to get or take possession of.
narrow strip of land that lies along a body of water.
Encyclopedic Entry: beach bezoar Noun
hard, indigestable mass found in the stomach of certain animals.
a soft mineral. Also called limestone and calcium carbonate.
steep wall of rock, earth, or ice.
Encyclopedic Entry: cliff coast Noun
edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.
Encyclopedic Entry: coast dinosaur Noun
very large, extinct reptile chiefly from the Mesozoic Era, 251 million to 65 million years ago.
to keep track of.
feces Plural Noun
waste material produced by the living body of an organism.
remnant, impression, or trace of an ancient organism.
Encyclopedic Entry: fossil geologic Adjective
having to do with the physical formations of the Earth.
hard, white substance that forms the teeth or tusks of some animals.
having to do with the time period between 190 million and 140 million years ago, characterized by an abundance of dinosaurs and ammonites.
type of sedimentary rock mostly made of calcium carbonate from shells and skeletons of marine organisms.
having to do with the ocean.
space where valuable works of art, history, or science are kept for public view.
the study of fossils and life from early geologic periods.
Encyclopedic Entry: paleontology preserve Verb
to maintain and keep safe from damage.
important or standing out.
extinct order of flying reptiles that flourished from 220 million-65 million years ago.
to identify or acknowledge.
animal that breathes air and usually has scales.
trace fossil Noun
preserved evidence of the presence or behavior of an ancient organism, such as tracks, feces, or burrows.