Fossil hunter’s famous find back in Lyme Regis

PUBLISHED: 14:01 04 August 2011

The skull of Mary Anning's famous ichthyosaur

The skull of Mary Anning's famous ichthyosaur

Archant

Mary Anning’s ichthyosaur goes on show at the town’s musuem to mark the 200th anniversary of its discovery

WORLD renowned fossil hunter Mary Anning’s most famous find has returned to Lyme Regis.

The pioneering paleontologist and her brother Joseph discovered the complete ichthyosaur in 1811, buried in the blue lias cliffs near the resort.

Now, after 200 years, the remaining gigantic skull has been loaned to Lyme Museum by The Natural History Museum, in London

Soon after it was found the Anning family sold the ichthyosaur to Henry Hoste Henley, of Colway Manor, in Lyme, for £23.

From there it was sent to London, probably by sea, where it was exhibited at William Bullock’s Museum of Natural Curiosities.

In 1819, the specimen was purchased by the British Museum making its way to the Natural History Museum where it is usually displayed alongside a selection of other marine reptile fossils.

The skull was returned to Lyme Regis last week by Natural History Museum fossil staff Dr Martin Munt and Dr Tim Ewin.

Carrying the heavy, two-meter-long, specimen up the museum’s spiral staircase to the geology gallery proved to be too difficult a manoeuvre, so space was made for it on the ground floor gallery where it will be on display until the end of September.

A grant from Natural England and financial support from the Natural History Museum has made the loan possible.

Dr Martin Munt said: “It has been a privilege to help Lyme Regis Museum achieve their dream of bringing home this iconic fossil specimen to mark the 200th anniversary of its discovery. We have been planning this for over a year and it has involved working closely with my colleagues throughout the Museum including those in the museum’s paleontology conservation unit.”


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