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“Women of Stones”: The Forgotten Scientists of Dinosaurs and Stones |  Sciences

“Women of Stones”: The Forgotten Scientists of Dinosaurs and Stones | Sciences

The first dinosaur studied by science was discovered by a woman. The trained eye of Mary Ann Woodhouse was able to distinguish on a roadside in southern England, in 1822, some huge teeth that turned out to be from the herbivorous reptile Iguanodon some 120 million years old and weighing about three tons. . It was the first dinosaur studied by science, and one of the three that gave rise to the term for the first time in…

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The first dinosaur studied by science was discovered by a woman. The trained eye of Mary Ann Woodhouse was able to distinguish on a roadside in southern England, in 1822, some huge teeth that turned out to be from the herbivorous reptile Iguanodon some 120 million years old and weighing about three tons. . It was the first dinosaur studied by science, one of the three that gave rise to the term for the first time in history, and the first dinosaur, of many, to forget women's contributions. That copy was registered in the name of Woodhouse's husband, Gideon Mantell, a doctor who was fond of paleontology, since until the beginning of the 20th century only men had the right to leave records of their scientific careers.

Her story is similar to that of 170 other pioneers told in the book book stone women, Written by paleontology student Fernanda Castaño and researcher Sebastián Abisteguia, it was recently published by the editors of Vásquez Mazzini and the Azara Foundation. In more than 360 pages, the material provides brief biographies of the pioneers Hobby For current professionals, in different historical periods spanning five continents.

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The compilation of their lives reflects some clear conclusions: Europeans, especially the British, were a global source of inspiration. They got the down payment thanks to their class privileges and generous companions (fathers and husbands) who exploited their parental advantages – to varying degrees depending on the situation – to pave the way for them. The glass walls that separated their experiences had not yet broken.

The case of British Mary Horner astonished author Fernanda Castaño: “The father, a rather important geologist with the Geological Society of London, inculcated scientific vocations in his two daughters. Mary’s sister devoted herself to botany. He did not merely draw illustrations of what he saw in the field , but also tried to study it. “This seems like a great example to me,” he says. These parents did not provide their daughters with the education expected of wives and flight attendants, but seemed to wish them a more stimulating and exploratory life, training them in sciences and languages.

Sebastian Apesteguia and Fernanda Castaño presented the book at Maimonides University in Buenos Aires.Veronica Tello-Conisset

Some relationships were so progressive that they seemed out of context. Such as the one that Annie Montagu Alexander of Hawaii lived with her father, in the 19th century, highlighted by the paleontologist Apisteguia, the second author of the book. “It made her very independent and with habits that were at that time very masculine. She shot a rifle, hunted, climbed with it. And in fact, the father died during an expedition in Africa, at Victoria Falls, crushed by a rock before her eyes,” Castaño adds: “She was a lesbian, she had many female companions in her life and he had no problem accepting that, he supported her. “He was a very interesting character.”

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One of the most famous scientists, who has books and films about her life, is Mary Anning. Her father, a humble carpenter and fossil enthusiast, trained her and her brother in fossil collecting. Thanks to her influence, I was able to find the first remains of many specimens that later became famous such as those of ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs – the first complete one -, the first pterosaurs found outside Germany, and several species of simonites. A snail with claws from 400 million years ago.

Despite these promising beginnings, women remained confined to the small, to the plants, the air or the water. That is, in the disciplinary gaps that men were not interested in filling. “There weren't many women who devoted themselves to studying dinosaurs. Generally, they were micropaleontologists or paleontologists. They didn't usually go excavating because they weren't allowed to. It was a masculine thing, so they were left with topics that men didn't work on.” ,” explains an excited Castaño. “Right now, there's a tendency for many paleontologists to work, in the case of vertebrates, on marine mammals or reptiles. “So, there aren't as many women working on dinosaurs, because the men took care of the big saurians.”

Discovering the professional lives of these scholars affected Apesteguía in a personal way. “I didn’t realize that there were no women in certain subjects until when I wrote the book. I started researching and saw that one of the great pioneers in Argentina was my director.” Zulma – Brandoni De GaspariniHe realizes that “there are still few women in these cases.” a star From paleontology. Although popular fame is not the motivation for those who devote themselves to science, the low visibility of female scientists among the population affects the encouragement and social evaluation of other professions.

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The bond of solidarity between fathers and daughters that motivated early paleontologists and geologists is in some way recycled in the authors' alliance. Women of stones. Experienced researcher Apesteguía discovered Blog Di Castagno and suggested that he write the book. The paleontologist says: “I was very amazed by what she published, and I discovered stories thanks to her, and this inspired me to contact her and discuss the idea.” She described it as a football achievement. “Imagine. I study paleontology and Sebastian Apisteguia approached me to write the book. It was as if they promoted me to River’s first team.”

Although the book is very broad, the authors continue to unearth relevant biographies of scientists around the world, so they are already thinking about a sequel.

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