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Icthyosaur, Natural History Museum

Happy Birthday to fossil hunter Mary Anning (born 21 May 1799). This ichthyosaur is one of her largest finds, a beast that died around 200 million years ago. After its body was laid down on the sea bed, it became fossilised and locked in time. That was until a young woman discovered it on the beach at Lyme Regis, Dorset in the early 1800s.

Mary is perhaps the greatest dinosaur hunter in British history, but her story is often overlooked. A small-town woman from a humble background, her discoveries were purchased from her for a small fee, before being sold on to collectors and museums across the country. You’ll find this fossil and others Mary found in the Natural History Museum and also in the newly redisplayed Lyme Regis Museum in Dorset.