5 scientific discoveries by girls under 12 years old5 scientific discoveries by girls under 12 years old

When it comes to scientific, archaeological and paleontological discoveries, the girls really cut it! If a simple Google search is anything to go by, sometimes it seems like girls are making amazing discoveries every day, advancing our knowledge of science, nature, the ancient world, and more.

5 scientific discoveries by girls under 12 years old :

In honor of what’s to come International Day of Women and Girls in Science (Feb. 11), here are some of our favorite finds and the girls who made them.

1. Molly and the megalodon

Megalodon tooth (left) versus shark tooth. (Credit: Mark Kostic/Shutterstock)

The latest find comes courtesy of 9-year-old Molly Sampson. In 2022, the 4th grader and her family scoured Calvert Beach in Maryland on Christmas morning looking for shark teeth. In fact, Molly, who shares a love of fossils with her father, was looking specifically megalodon teeth, and Calvert Beach is a popular place to find them.

But Molly got a lot more than she bargained for when she discovered a meg tooth as big as her hand, about five inches long. It even comes from an extinct shark whose name literally means “giant tooth,” this was definitely an unusually large find (the largest known megalodon tooth is only a few inches longer).

Read more: The mystery of the megalodon and what scientists know

The once-in-a-lifetime discovery was big enough to make titles around the world when Molly confirmed her 15-20 million year old find at a local marine museum. The tooth remains in her personal collection.

2. The Sword of Saga

(Credit: Jönköping County Museum)

Once upon a time, a little girl named Saga discovered a mysterious sword hidden for centuries in the waters of a lake. Yes it does sounds like the beginning of some ancient epic, but it really happened in 2018.

While on summer vacation at a lake near Tånnö, Sweden, Saga Vanecek, then 8 years old, retrieved a long, rust-covered, sediment-covered object from the bottom of the lake. It had been there for a long time—1,500 years—but Saga immediately recognized it as a sword still sheathed in the remains of a leather and wooden scabbard.

Originally thought to be a Viking Age sword, archaeologists later determined that the blade was older, from around 400 to 500 AD, during a time known as Migration period. Despite the almost universal desire of the internet for Saga to keep her sword and claim her rightful place as queen of swedenthe artifact is instead located on a museum, not far from where it was found, in the care of conservators who will continue to preserve and study it. Instead of a coronation, Sweden’s National Heritage Board paid Saga a cash prize of about $1,600.

Read more: Meet 10 women in science who changed the world

3. The Egyptian amulet of Neshama

(Credit: Temple Mount Sifting Project/Cityofdavid.org)

Neshama Spielman was also just 8 years old when she and her family did citizen science work by participating in Temple Mount Screening Projectinitiative to investigate tons of soil and debris that had been improperly excavated and moved without archaeological oversight as required by law.

Neshama is sifting through debris in Jerusalem when he discovers a small object – part of an amulet that its longtime owner would have worn around his neck. It was only in 2016 that archaeologists informed Neshama and the rest of the worldthat the amulet is of Egyptian origin and more than 3000 years old.

In addition, the amulet bears the name of a pharaoh: Thutmose III, who ruled from 1479 to 1425 BCE, about the time Jerusalem would have been under Egyptian rule. To see other surprising finds from the project, you can view a virtual exhibition here.

4. Clara’s Amazing Molecule

(Credit: AlesiaKan/Shutterstock)

For fifth-grader Clara Lazen of Kansas City, Missouri, a simple school experiment launched her into the heights of academia. Working with a kit that allowed her to create models of different types of molecules, Clara went freestyle, assembling a combination of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms, which left her teacher scratching his head: she had created a molecule that he had never seen before.

The teacher shared the mysterious configuration with his friend Robert Zellner, a chemist professor at California State University, Humboldt. Zoellner found that Clara’s molecule, tetranitrateoxycarbon, was indeed novel and special enough to warrant a scientific paper on its discovery. The resulting work appeared in 2012 Computational and theoretical chemistry, with Clara earning credit as a co-author on the paper. Not bad for a 10 year old.

5. Mary’s Fantastic Fossils

(Credit: Carbon moon/CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikimedia Commons)

Our last record lived about 200 years before any of the other girls mentioned here. But she is a sentimental and historical favorite when it comes to recognizing girls who have made amazing discoveries. Her name was Mary Anning. Born in 1799 in Lyme Regis, Dorset in England, Mary was a proto-paleontologist.

Despite her limited education, Mary still made a name for herself as a fossil collector. She and her father often combed the rocks near her home, part of what is now known as jurassic coast, because of its wealth of fossils from this period. It was common for locals to collect fossils or shells to sell as curiosities to tourists, and Mary’s family did the same for a living.

Read more: 5 scientific discoveries by girls : The unsung heroes of science

But Mary was particularly gifted at identifying and carefully extracting selected fossils from the limestone and shale rocks. As a child in 1811, Mary’s first major find was on ichthyosaur skeleton, one of the earliest specimens ever found and perhaps the finest of its kind. She also made important early discoveries of plesiosaur and pterosaur fossils.

During her lifetime, Mary became known throughout Europe for her work. And while many geologists of the time were her regular customers, she suffered a notable lack of recognition from the scientific community. Like all women of the era, she was forbidden to join or even attend meetings of the prestigious Geological Society. However, towards the end of her life (Mary died of breast cancer in 1847) the Society belatedly recognized her contribution to science and donated money to support her. That was awfully big of them considering how many of his members benefited from her discoveries. But it’s not like they erected a statue of her or anything.

Instead, that task would fall to another remarkable girl, more than 150 years later. In 2018, 11-year-old Evie Swire started a campaign to raise funds for a bronze statue of Mary Anning. After raising more than $100,000, Anning’s statue was finally created and revealed at Lyme Regis in May 2022 Well done Evie!

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