It seems the salt-same sea but think more lizard, less seal and whale, tuna and sole. And thank Mary Anning for filling the aquaria of our minds with these stranger biologies— four-finned reptiles porpoising for air like dolphins— improbably necked plesiosaurs serpentine and fishy. What Anning unearthed the men had trouble classifying as if she were writing into history fantastic creatures to be sketched only in the ancient inks she cracked from fossil Belemites. She traced the ghostly dust of British limestone for animals not named in Bibles. Her confounding zoologies attenuated time, beggared belief—it seemed the salt-same sea until Anning followed the land- slides of Lyme Regis that uncovered the bones of others’ contentions.
Mary Anning (1799-1847) was a British fossil hunter and paleontologist who worked in the limestone of Lyme Regis in county Dorset, a coastline that came to be known as the “Jurassic Coast.” Among her discoveries is the ichthyosaur (a specimen she meticulously dug out when she was 12 years old) and the Plesiosaur. Her findings led to arguments among the scientists of the day, all of whom happened to be male. Anning’s work was never published under her own name; in fact, many scientists took credit for her work. The Geological Society of London would not admit her, despite her scientific credentials. This poem celebrates her work, and hints at the knee-jerk reactions of her fellow scientists regarding her and her discoveries.