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The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World

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The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World Cover

ISBN13: 9780230103429
ISBN10: 0230103421
Condition: Standard
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Publisher Comments:

Mary Anning was only twelve years old when, in 1811, she discovered the first dinosaur skeleton — of an ichthyosaur — while fossil hunting on the cliffs of Lyme Regis, England. Until Mary's incredible discovery, it was widely believed that animals did not become extinct. The child of a poor family, Mary became a fossil hunter, inspiring the tongue-twister, "She Sells Sea Shells by the Seashore." She attracted the attention of fossil collectors and eventually the scientific world. Once news of the fossils reached the halls of academia, it became impossible to ignore the truth. Mary's peculiar finds helped lay the groundwork for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, laid out in his On the Origin of Species. Darwin drew on Mary's fossilized creatures as irrefutable evidence that life in the past was nothing like life in the present.

A story worthy of Dickens, The Fossil Hunter chronicles the life of this young girl, with dirt under her fingernails and not a shilling to buy dinner, who became a world-renowned paleontologist. Dickens himself said of Mary: "'The carpenter's daughter has won a name for herself, and deserved to win it."

Here at last, Shelley Emling returns Mary Anning, of whom Stephen J. Gould remarked, is "probably the most important unsung (or inadequately sung) collecting force in the history of paleontology," to her deserved place in history.

Review:

"Shelley Emling vividly brings to life the fascinating story of Mary Anning, the greatest fossil hunter of the early nineteenth century. Anning single-handedly recovered an extraordinary collection of fossils of marine and flying reptiles that helped shape the way we now see the incredibly long history of life on Earth. With this enjoyable book, Emling gives Anning her deserved place in history." Hans Sues, Associate Director of Research and Collections, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Review:

"Emling writes with a style that makes The Fossil Hunter very hard to put down before reaching the last page." Winnepeg Free Press

Review:

"Readable, journalistic, Emling's amply footnoted book skillfully puts Anning's work into the scientific and sociological context." The New York Times

Review:

"Dinosaurs are astonishing today — and we've had several hundred years of biology to help us absorb the shock. Imagine the shock caused by these monster creatures discovered and presented by a poor, twelve-year old girl, in the early 19th century. This is the remarkable story that Emling tells so well, evoking a world far from ours that in just a few years took a destitute pre-teen scavenging the crumbling cliffs of Lyme Regis to the pages of the leading scientific journals of her time." Peter Galison, author of Einstein's Clock's and Poincare's Maps and Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University

Review:

"Emling does an excellent job of knitting together a highly readable title on her life, reaching into sources for Anning's contemporaries and scientific publications from the time which describes the fossils she found. It is rare that readers discover someone like them who changed the world. That's Mary Anning however, and as Shelley Emling shows, it wasn't easy. But she did it anyway and now, at last, we can appreciate how."Bookslut

Synopsis:

Mary Anning was only twelve years old when, in 1811, she discovered the first dinosaur skeleton--of an ichthyosaur--while fossil hunting on the cliffs of Lyme Regis, England. Until Mary's incredible discovery, it was widely believed that animals did not become extinct. The child of a poor family, Mary became a fossil hunter, inspiring the tongue-twister, “She Sells Sea Shells by the Seashore.” She attracted the attention of fossil collectors and eventually the scientific world. Once news of the fossils reached the halls of academia, it became impossible to ignore the truth. Marys peculiar finds helped lay the groundwork for Charles Darwins theory of evolution, laid out in his On the Origin of Species. Darwin drew on Marys fossilized creatures as irrefutable evidence that life in the past was nothing like life in the present.

A story worthy of Dickens, The Fossil Hunter chronicles the life of this young girl, with dirt under her fingernails and not a shilling to buy dinner, who became a world-renowned paleontologist. Dickens himself said of Mary: “The carpenter's daughter has won a name for herself, and deserved to win it."

Here at last, Shelley Emling returns Mary Anning, of whom Stephen J. Gould remarked, is “probably the most important unsung (or inadequately sung) collecting force in the history of paleontology,” to her deserved place in history.

About the Author

Shelley Emling has been a journalist for twenty years. She is a foreign correspondent for Cox Newspapers, and her work has appeared in The New York Times, Fortune, USA Today, and The International Herald Tribune. She lives in London.

Table of Contents

Prologue

Snakestones, Thunderbolts, and Verteberries

A Fantastic Beast

An Unimaginable World

A Great Kindness

A Long-Necked Beauty

The Hidden Mysteries of Coprolites

Finally, The Big City Of London

An Amazing New Fish

Spilling Secrets

Esteemed Visitors

The Earth Moves

The Making Of A Legend

Epilogue

Timeline

What Our Readers Are Saying

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respectfulempiricist, August 15, 2011 (view all comments by respectfulempiricist)
The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Who’s Discoveries Changed the World by Shelley Emling. New York, Palgrave McMillan, 2009 234 pp. ISBN: 978-0-230-10342-9

Emling writes about a little known paleontologist of some 175 years ago. Unknown that is, to those of us who have little historical knowledge of the field. As it turns out Mary Anning had left a considerable legacy to other researchers and collectors of fossils. The tributes to her and the consultation sought from her by leading naturalists of the have left her imprint on the entire field. The tongue teaser “She sells seashells…” was written as a result of Mary Anning’s efforts.

Anning had a large number of obstacles that stood in her way to becoming something of a household name. She was a woman and an uneducated one at that. She was poor and plied her trade far from the scientific literati. Too many of the more famous naturalists of the day gave her no credit after she sold her findings to them. This was not always the case but it occurred more than it should have. She did have her benefactors and they made sure to provide financial rewards to her.

Anning rarely left her sea side home and did little more than collect specimens. Initially they were fossils to sell to wealthy tourists and it was barely a livelihood. As her skills improved she became adept at finding larger pre-historic fossils, dinosaurs in fact. She not only learned when and how to search but she also perfected the delicate digging to pry them from the ground where they have existed for millions of years and finally to clean the specimen.

It was good if flawed book that kept this reader interested though often wincing. In order to personalize the story of Mary Anning, the author took a number of novel-like liberties. She would suggest the emotions that were felt by her heroine as well as quoting conversations. Since she also told us that Anning was a very poor writer with spellings that were understood more to her than any reader, it seems implausible that there are records confirming Emling’s assertions. The author provided ten pages of reference material including some original source material but did not use them to specify these incidents.

Troubles notwithstanding, it was good to read about a naturalist who was integral to blazing a scientific trail.
www.respectfulempiricist.com
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780230103429
Author:
Emling, Shelley
Publisher:
Palgrave MacMillan
Subject:
Science & Technology
Subject:
History
Subject:
Scientists - General
Subject:
Biography-Scientists
Subject:
Life Sciences - Evolution
Subject:
Paleontology
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Series:
MacSci
Series Volume:
Dinosaurs, Evolution
Publication Date:
20110131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » Science and Technology
Biography » Women
History and Social Science » Politics » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution
Science and Mathematics » Geology » Paleontology
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General

The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World Used Trade Paper
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Product details 256 pages Palgrave MacMillan - English 9780230103429 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Shelley Emling vividly brings to life the fascinating story of Mary Anning, the greatest fossil hunter of the early nineteenth century. Anning single-handedly recovered an extraordinary collection of fossils of marine and flying reptiles that helped shape the way we now see the incredibly long history of life on Earth. With this enjoyable book, Emling gives Anning her deserved place in history." Hans Sues, Associate Director of Research and Collections, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
"Review" by , "Emling writes with a style that makes The Fossil Hunter very hard to put down before reaching the last page."
"Review" by , "Readable, journalistic, Emling's amply footnoted book skillfully puts Anning's work into the scientific and sociological context."
"Review" by , "Dinosaurs are astonishing today — and we've had several hundred years of biology to help us absorb the shock. Imagine the shock caused by these monster creatures discovered and presented by a poor, twelve-year old girl, in the early 19th century. This is the remarkable story that Emling tells so well, evoking a world far from ours that in just a few years took a destitute pre-teen scavenging the crumbling cliffs of Lyme Regis to the pages of the leading scientific journals of her time." Peter Galison, author of Einstein's Clock's and Poincare's Maps and Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University
"Review" by , "Emling does an excellent job of knitting together a highly readable title on her life, reaching into sources for Anning's contemporaries and scientific publications from the time which describes the fossils she found. It is rare that readers discover someone like them who changed the world. That's Mary Anning however, and as Shelley Emling shows, it wasn't easy. But she did it anyway and now, at last, we can appreciate how."
"Synopsis" by ,

Mary Anning was only twelve years old when, in 1811, she discovered the first dinosaur skeleton--of an ichthyosaur--while fossil hunting on the cliffs of Lyme Regis, England. Until Mary's incredible discovery, it was widely believed that animals did not become extinct. The child of a poor family, Mary became a fossil hunter, inspiring the tongue-twister, “She Sells Sea Shells by the Seashore.” She attracted the attention of fossil collectors and eventually the scientific world. Once news of the fossils reached the halls of academia, it became impossible to ignore the truth. Marys peculiar finds helped lay the groundwork for Charles Darwins theory of evolution, laid out in his On the Origin of Species. Darwin drew on Marys fossilized creatures as irrefutable evidence that life in the past was nothing like life in the present.

A story worthy of Dickens, The Fossil Hunter chronicles the life of this young girl, with dirt under her fingernails and not a shilling to buy dinner, who became a world-renowned paleontologist. Dickens himself said of Mary: “The carpenter's daughter has won a name for herself, and deserved to win it."

Here at last, Shelley Emling returns Mary Anning, of whom Stephen J. Gould remarked, is “probably the most important unsung (or inadequately sung) collecting force in the history of paleontology,” to her deserved place in history.

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