If you’re a fan of the plesiosaurs in the most recent issue of Zoodinos, you have paleontologist Mary Anning to thank. Anning lived two hundred years ago, and she made some of the earliest discoveries of these ocean-dwelling reptiles from the time of the dinosaurs.

Mary Anning was born in 1799 on the southern coast of England, an area rich in fossils. When Anning was about twelve years old, she and her brother found the fossil of another marine reptile called an ichthyosaur. By the time she was in her early twenties, she’d found the first known fossils of long-necked plesiosaurs. The discoveries she made shaped the field of paleontology to this day.

You might have heard of Mary Anning before without realizing it—the tongue-twister “She sells seashells by the seashore” is actually about Anning and the fossils and shells that she found!

Image via Wikimedia Commons