Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The greatest fossilist and the greatest fossil.

The as-yet unnamed behemoth evidently stood 7 stories tall and weighed as much as 77 tons.

One of its thigh-bones is longer than most humans, as proved by these pictures.


Based on interpretation of the size, and comparison with other diplodocids, scientists suspect the latest-found animal weighed about 77,000 kilos, or 77 tons. The T-rex, for comparison, is believed to have averaged some 7 tons.
If we say the average human weight is (say) 70 kilos, this newly-found dino weighed as much as 1,100 people. With its neck (and rather small head) upright, say the scientists, it was around 7 stories tall.

What would Mary have said?!

Mary Anning (21 May 1799 – 9 March 1847) was a British fossil collector, dealer, and palaeontologist who became known around the world for important findings she made in the Jurassic marine fossil beds. Mary Anning lived through a life of privation and hardship to become what one source called "the greatest fossilist the world ever knew."

She sells seashells on the seashore
The shells she sells are seashells, I’m sure
So if she sells seashells on the seashore
Then I’m sure she sells seashore shells.
Just about every English speaker over the age of 5 knows at least the first line of Terry Sullivan’s 1908 tongue twister. Much less known, sadly, is the woman behind the rhyme. Mary began collecting shells and fossils when she was a small child.

Her work contributed to fundamental changes that occurred during her lifetime in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth. However, she was denied the formal recognition of the 19th-century British scientific community, largely because of her gender and social class.

After her death in 1847, her unusual life story attracted increasing interest. In 2010, one hundred and sixty-three years after her death, the Royal Society included Mary in a list of the ten British women who have most influenced the history of science. Today, on her 215th birthday, Google honours her with an international commemoration.

Mary Anning: Google doodle celebrates the invisible woman of science.

Letter and drawing from Mary Anning announcing the discovery of a fossil animal now known as Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus, 26 December 1823.