Appeal launched for Mary Anning statue in Lyme Regis

image captionEvie Swire has been campaigning for a statue of Mary Anning in Lyme Regis

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to erect a statue of Dorset palaeontologist Mary Anning in her home town of Lyme Regis.

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

The Mary Anning Rocks campaign, led by 13-year-old Evie Swire, wants a permanent memorial in the town.

Almost a quarter of the £100,000 target has already been raised.

Anning, whose life inspired feature film Ammonite, was never fully credited for her discoveries due to her gender and social status.

The campaign is being backed by Prof Alice Roberts, who appeared in a video to launch the crowdfunding bid.

image copyrightMary Anning Rocks
image captionProf Alice Roberts is supporting the campaign for a statue

She said: "I think it's so important that we recognise people like Mary Anning and celebrate them, it's about restoring her to her rightful place in the history of science.

"It's about making sure that anyone who visits Lyme Regis knows that this really important woman was there doing that work in the early days of palaeontology."

Artist Denise Sutton - creator of the Land Girls monument at the National Arboretum - has been commissioned to create a sculpture on the seafront, close to Anning's birthplace.

image copyrightNHM
image captionMary Anning's social status meant she did not receive proper recognition for her discoveries

Mary Anning was born in 1799 to a poor, working-class family, but she made groundbreaking discoveries that shaped scientific knowledge about prehistoric life.

In 1811, aged 12, she discovered a 5.2m (17ft) skeleton, now known to be an ichthyosaur.

Twelve years later, she found the first complete skeleton of a plesiosaur, a marine reptile so bizarre that scientists initially thought it was a fake.

Dorchester schoolgirl Evie launched her campaign, with the help of her mother Anya Pearson, two years ago after learning about Anning during a fossil-hunting trip.

"She's done all these amazing things and sadly has been lost in history," Evie said.

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