Mary Anning (1799-1847) was born into a modest English family who supplemented their income by selling all the fossils they found in Lyme Regis, a coastal town in West Dorset. During the Early Jurassic, between 201 and 174 million years ago, that area was covered by a warm, shallow sea, and inhabited by many ancient reptiles.
At the age of 12, Mary discovered the first complete fossil of an ichthyosaur and at 24 she found the first Plesiosaurus. Eventually, she became a very successful collector and naturalist, in a world and a discipline dominated mostly by men.
She became an honorary member of the Geological Society of London and died of breast cancer at age 47.