Fossil found by 14-year-old Mary Anning in Lyme Regis put on display at Bristol museum

  • Watch Louisa Britton's report.

An ancient fossil found by Mary Anning when she was just 14 years old is now on display in Bristol.

The huge fossil skull - of a type of ichthyosaur called a Temnodontosaurus - was found in 1813 on the beach in Lyme Regis, where Mary grew up.

The skull has been in the museum’s collection since 1845 but has not been on display for over 30 years due to its complex conservation needs.

Deborah Hutchinson, curator of natural sciences at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, said: “It is fantastic to be able to recognise and celebrate Mary’s contribution to science through this new display.

"We are also celebrating amazing women who are working in geoscience today through four short films produced by Latent Pictures that focus on four inspirational scientists.”

Mary Anning found the fossil when she was just 14 years old Credit: ITV News

Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor of Bristol with responsibility for Bristol Museums, said: “It is an honour to have a collection which includes a fossil discovered by the legend, Mary Anning.

"I know this exhibition is going to be popular, and the good news is that the fossil of the Temnodontosaurus skull will be on permanent display at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery so visitors will be able to marvel at it for many years to come.

"I’m really excited for people to see the Making Waves exhibition and to enjoy it alongside our other fascinating collections.”

The conservation work also revealed new information. The skull had been mounted in mortar in a wooden box for more than a hundred years, with the lower portion hidden.

When the wood and mortar were removed, so that a new mount could be made, several deep marks were found on either side of the skull, which could show it was attacked by an even larger creature.

Nigel Larkin, palaeontological conservator, said: “It was an honour to work on a fossil found by Mary Anning, particularly one she found when so young.

"Even though the fossil is very large, heavy and fragile, it is a thing of beauty.

"To find new information about the specimen when working on it, especially regarding how these ancient animals interacted with one another, was the icing on the cake and one of the highlights of my career.”

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