How wonderful that a Google Doodle is celebrating the 215th birthday of Mary Anning, the self-trained, citizen-scientist fossil hunter who discovered the very first dinosaur skeleton.
I’ll be an iguanodon’s uncle. I have to admit, before today, I never knew much about the story and legacy of Mary Anning. I had heard her name before, but not much else. So I pulled out my rock hammer of curiosity dug a little deeper (pun most definitely intended).
Turns out Anning didn’t actually uncover the first dinosaur skeleton, as is stated in the reblog above. That honor most certainly goes to ancient cultures like the Greeks and Chinese, although they attributed the finds to mythology (thar be dragons!). Richard Brookes described the first dinosaur bone in 1763 (there’s a funny story behind that one, which I’ll tell another time), which was formally described as Megalosaurus in 1824.
But Mary did make some of the most important finds in the history of paleontology. In 1811, she was walking on the beach with her brother when they stumbled across the skull of an ichthyosaur. Luckily for them, British beaches are rocky, desolate places. Over the next few months, Mary dug up the complete skeleton. She was just 12 years old!
But ichthyosaurs aren’t dinosaurs! They are a separate group of prehistoric marine reptiles. So Mary discovered one of the first prehistoric reptile fossils, but not the first dinosaur.
Today’s Google’s doodle tells the story of another of Mary’s famous finds, her 1823 unearthing of the first plesiosaur (also not a dinosaur). She won the Triple Crown of science awesomeness in 1828 when she discovered the first pterosaur, which (you guessed it) is also not a dinosaur. Here’s her original letter (a rather beautiful one if I may say so) describing the 1823 plesiosaur find (via Wikipedia):
Despite these discoveries, Anning was excluded by her gender from scientific societies, and the gentleman-scholars who purchased her fossils often took credit for her work without so much as a mention of her name. She wasn’t completely ignored, as many scholars called upon her expertise to obtain and help classify fossils (including Charles Darwin’s geology teacher), but she suffered financial difficulties for most of her life, and cultural obscurity long after.
It would be hard to think of anyone who made a bigger impact than Mary Anning on the science of digging old bits of animals out of the ground. I’m glad Google is celebrating her today, so that perhaps she can be celebrated a bit more every day. According to Alexa, Google.com gets 720 million unique visitors every day. Imagine how many of them might be inspired, as I was, to learn a little more about the story behind the doodle.
I have never seen SciShow before, and maybe what I’m about to say is because I don’t hear American accents all the time (although to be fair I did live in NH for a little while) but it’s as if this guy is channelling his inner Emily Graslie (thebrainscoop and isnotadinosaur). In a totally cool way, of course.
I’m in this month’s Glamour magazine!…. and they whitened my teeth.
This headshot has been used by a great number of media outlets and institutions. It was printed on promotional posters for my talk at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and at The Field Museum, and is used in news articles and accompanying bios. It is my standard headshot and I have never had an organization attempt to alter it in such a way before.
Is this such a big deal? With a magazine like Glamour I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that nobody is free from the touch of their photoshop brush.
Perhaps it’s the timing - on Monday I gave a talk at the Field about the importance of female science role models in the media. I discussed the pressures young women face to be the best, most beautiful, smartest, most capable. I brought up the unending pressure to scrutinize one’s own appearance, picking out the flaws one by one and attacking them until every last imperfection is remedied. I emphasized how there needs to be far more realistic women in media and in public roles - women whose primary objective is empowerment and encouragement, and how the only way we will get there is leading by example.
I am disappointed in Glamour, but I’m not surprised. I’m airing my dissatisfaction because we need to take on this challenge for ourselves and express that it’s not okay to alter photographs beyond realistic portrayal of individuals. I understand their objective is to sell magazines, but I dream of the day I can subscribe to a publication that portrays people as they truly are.
Hello to all my new followers!!! Welcome to my tumblr! I have the wonderful Emily Graslie to thank for probably most (if not all,) of you for deciding to follow me.
As I mentioned I would do in an ask I answered yesterday, here is a post showcasing where I am with the children’s book illustrations. The majority of them are still unfinished, but I’m aiming to having them done by the end of this month. Not pictured is the two page spread, because I’m still laying down flat colors on it. I will make a separate post for that because quite frankly it deserves it’s own post!
Edit: I decided to take down some of the pages’ pictures because I realized I want to have some of this book be a surprise for when people buy it! So here’s just a sampling instead of every single page.