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"On the supposed frontal spines of the genus Hybodus" (1839)

Anning Hybodus
Mary Anning's only known scientific publication, from the Magazine of Natural History, New Series, vol 3 (1839), p605.  GSL Library collections.
Mary Anning’s single published scientific work is a very brief piece.  It is an extract from a letter sent to Edward Charlesworth (1813-1893, GSL membership no.1082) during his short reign as publisher and editor of the ‘Magazine of Natural History’.  The letter is in response to Charlesworth’s request for information following the debates about his paper “On the Fossil Remains of a Species of Hybodus, from Lyme Regis”, [Magazine of Natural History, New Series, vol 3 (1839)

Charlesworth’s paper was a description of a fossil jaw of the shark Hybodus which had been found by Anning.  She had sold it to the fossil collector Edmund Thomas Higgins (1817-1891), who Charlesworth mistakenly gave equal attribution to as discoverer.  Charlesworth’s rather sneering reply, compared with the more respectful response given to Gideon Mantell above is of note.  Charlesworth's lack of tact and his tendency to freely give his opinions about other geological figures inevitably caused problems.  In 1840 he had to escape to Central America to escape a libel prosecution by Thomas Hawkins.  He was also turned down as a candidate for the Curator post at the Geological Society’s Museum after previously criticising a number of its Fellows in a special appendix of his journal.     

Hybodus delabechei was named by Charlesworth after Henry Thomas De la Beche who had first included the species in his paper “Remarks on the Geology of the South Coast of England, from Bridport Harbour, Dorset, to Babbacombe Bay, Devon”, Transactions of the Geological Society of London, Series 2, vol 1, (1822).