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Mary Anning was only twelve years old when, in 1811, she discovered the first dinosaur skeleton--of an ichthyosaur--while fossil hunting on the cliffs of Lyme Regis, England. Until Mary's incredible discovery, it was widely believed that animals did not become extinct. The child of a poor family, Mary became a fossil hunter, inspiring the tongue-twister, “She Sells Sea Shells by the Seashore.” She attracted the attention of fossil collectors and eventually the scientific world. Once news of the fossils reached the halls of academia, it became impossible to ignore the truth. Mary’s peculiar finds helped lay the groundwork for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, laid out in his On the Origin of Species. Darwin drew on Mary’s fossilized creatures as irrefutable evidence that life in the past was nothing like life in the present.

About the Author

Shelley Emling

Hailing from the Lone Star State, Shelley Emling studied journalism at the University of Texas in Austin before setting off to New Orleans to do the 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. reporting gig for UPI. And that was just the beginning of an ongoing effort to satisfy her wanderlust.

Indeed, in 1990, she left with $2,000 to her name for Guatemala, bound and determined to become a foreign correspondent. While there, she and her (then boyfriend) eloped and she wrote a book called Your Guide to Retiring to Mexico, Costa Rica and Beyond that was published in 1996.

Reporting from Central and South America for a whole host of publications was just the beginning!

Before becoming AOL's Montclair Patch editor in June 2010, Shelley was a London-based foreign correspondent for six years, covering everything from Prince William's love life to European politics. Previously she covered New York City before and after 9/11, the Caribbean and Latin America, and Atlanta -- all for the Cox Newspaper chain.

Shelley left London and moved to Montclair, New Jersey in 2009 with her husband and three energetic children.

After years of rejection letters, her much-acclaimed book, The Fossil Hunter, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in October 2009.

That led her to learn more about -- and write an awful lot about -- science and religion.

And it also led to the writing of Shelley's latest book Madame Curie and her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science's First Family to be published in August 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan.

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