Dorset Fossil Hunter Mary Anning Honoured on New 50p Coins

Friday, February 26, 2021

Renowned fossil hunter Mary Anning is being celebrated in a new collection of coins Picture: Royal Mint

THE life of 19th Century Dorset fossil hunter Mary Anning is being celebrated with a new commemorative 50p coin collection.

Anning became world famous after discovering Jurassic skeletons in her hometown of Lyme Regis, which helped change long-held thinking about prehistoric life.

The collection, made possible thanks to a collaboration between the National History Museum and Royal Mint, shines a light on the achievements of the famed paleontologist who made a series of discoveries which forever changed what we know about prehistoric life.

It is the second in The Royal Mint’s ‘Tales of the Earth’ series. It aims to bring Anning's discoveries back to life, with each design - created by British paleo-artist Robert Nicholls - creating an accurate reconstruction of the creatures and the environment they existed in.

The cost of the collection of coins will range from £30 to £1,100 for a gold version.

The first coin to be released features the Temnodontosaurus, one of the largest types of ichthyosaur - a large-jawed marine reptile.

The Temnodontosaurus coin. Picture: Royal Mint

Anning, around the age of 12-years-old, made the first discovery of a Temnodontosaurus in 1810.

Up to 10 metres long, the Temnodontosaurus had the largest eye of any animal, the size of a football, and would hunt in the ocean that covered much of southern Britain.

The other two coins in the collection are due to be launched later in the year.

The coins will depict images of Anning's other most famous discoveries, the Plesiosaurus - a large marine sauropterygian reptile - and the Dimorphodon, a small flying reptile.

The plesiosaurus coin. Picture: Royal Mint

Clare Matterson, Executive Director of Engagement at the Natural History Museum said: “We are thrilled to continue working with The Royal Mint on the Tales of the Earth series. The Mary Anning Collection celebrates a pivotal figure in the understanding of palaeontology, important contributions to science that were rarely acknowledged in Mary’s lifetime. It is fantastic to see Mary celebrated in such a special way in 2021.”

The dimorphodon coin. Picture: Royal Mint

With her achievements being overlooked for many years, Anning is beginning to receive some well-earned recognition, being honoured by the museum and even being the subject of Ammonite, a feature film starring Kate Winslet as Anning.

She is set to be further immortalised in her hometown, with a campaign to raise enough funds to erect a statue of Anning recently reaching its funding goal.

'Mary Anning Rocks', the campaign group behind the statue, hopes that the statue will be unveiled in spring 2022.

To purchase the collection of coins, visit