Mary Anning: Lyme Regis fossil hunter's statue unveiled

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Mary Anning: Lyme Regis fossil hunter's statue unveiled
Unveiling
Image caption,
Hundreds of people turned out to see the unveiling

A seafront statue of palaeontologist Mary Anning has been unveiled in her hometown of Lyme Regis, Dorset.

Anning's discoveries in the early 19th Century helped shape scientific understanding of prehistoric life, but her work was never properly recognised.

Crowds turned out for the unveiling, carried out by Prof Alice Roberts.

Evie Squire, 15, campaigned for four years for the memorial, which was unveiled on what would have been Anning's 223rd birthday.

The fossil hunter lived in Lyme Regis, part of what is now called the Jurassic Coast, and began searching the coastline as a child.

She was the first person to discover a complete plesiosaurus, in 1823.

Prof Alice Roberts
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Prof Alice Roberts backed a crowdfunding appeal for the statue

During the ceremony, crowds cheered as Prof Roberts said: "Mary Anning - welcome back to Lyme Regis."

She added: "It makes Mary Anning visible as a role model for any woman wanting to get into science. This is her place, where she was from and where she made all her discoveries.

"But she also represents the change we need in our society - we need to push further and bring more people into science," she said.

Anning, whose life , was never fully credited for her discoveries due to the fact she was woman and because of her social status.

Painting of Mary Anning wearing a bonnet and a large green coatImage source, NHM
Image caption,
In 1811, aged 12, Mary Anning discovered a 5.2m (17ft) skeleton, now known to be an ichthyosaur

Evie said: "It's taken a very long time, I'm not as big a fossil fan; the main reason I wanted to do it was to make sure she got the recognition she deserved."

The teenager's mum, Anya Pearson, said of the four years it has taken to realise her ambition: "It's not how I expected; I genuinely thought in-out in a year, not a problem.

"Obviously a pandemic in the middle didn't help, but it's been a life-affirming thing to be involved with."

Artist Denise Sutton, creator of the Land Girls monument at the National Arboretum, was commissioned to create the sculpture, which has been installed close to Anning's birthplace.

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