Don’t you just love those moments when you hear something and think to yourself, “Huh, I had no idea that was a thing?”  Well, I had one of those moments today and it came from a very, very random place.  I was listening to an older clip from the Joe Rogan Experience and found out from a Paleontologist that the tongue twister “She Sells Sea Shells” was based on a real woman.

Mary Anning was her name, and she did, in fact, sell seashells by the seashore.  She also sold fossils to tourists which, in turn, lead to her making a scientific discovery.  Mary was responsible for the discovery of the Ichthyosaur, a pre-historic aquatic reptile, in 1811 when she was only 12 years old.  She and her brother were out looking for fossils to sell and came across a skull of the Ichthyosaur.  A few months later they found the rest of the ancient creature.  Talk about a good day at work.

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Mary’s discovery of the Ichthyosaur gave people an idea of what types of creatures roamed the Earth way before humans were around.  It also helped people understand the concept of extension.  Unfortunately for Mary her works and discoveries were not taken very seriously because she was a young woman.  It is very safe to say that she never got the recognition she deserved for her contributions to science and paleontology.

That being said, Mary did catch the attention of famous writers of the time like Charles Dickens.  He wrote about Mary and her work in 1856.  So, what about the tongue twister?  Well, that was not written until 1908 long after Mary had passed away.  It was written in her honor but as time went on people just thought that it was something fun to say and had no idea It was actually based on a real person.  But now you know!

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