The Buckland collection

The Reverend William Buckland is a significant figure in the history of archosaur science having been the person to describe Megalosaurus (one of the first dinosaurs to be named) and Dimorphodon (one of the first pterosaurs). His title obviously refers to his career as a priest, though in a way it’s odd he is remembered only as ‘Reverend’ since he could easily be recalled as ‘Dr’, ‘Professor’ or ‘Dean’.

Despite being largely a biblical literalist, Buckland did much significant work on geology and palaeontology in the UK in the 1800’s and produced important descriptions of many taxa and geological sections. At a time when the new science of ‘undergroundology’ (yes, really) was still working out what it should do and how and what much of it might mean, Buckland was a key protagonist and his influence was substantial.

While I can hardly call him a ‘hero’ his contribution to science and especially the groups on which I work cannot be ignored. Thus I was pleased to see various things associated with his work and career at the Oxford museum including his geological hammer (above) and some small parts of his extensive personal collection of specimens.

5 Responses to “The Buckland collection”

  1. 1 Paul Barrett 09/07/2010 at 3:00 pm

    Dave, you should be ashamed – Megalosaurus is not ‘one of the first dinosaurs to be named’ but the very first! Also, Owen coined the name Dimorphodon, although Buckland coined the species name (Pterodactylus macronyx). Buckland is definitely a hero – he was a pioneer in taphonomy and palaeoecology – doing experiments on both trackway formation and coprolites with the menagerie he kept in his house, as well as making major contributions to stratigraphy and vertebrate palaeontology. In addition, he was the first person to be granted a Chair in a geological subject at a British university.

    • 2 David Hone 10/07/2010 at 2:59 am

      Well, Thecodontosaurus was named before Megalosaurus though of course not recognised as a dinosaur till much later. Depends how picky people are about what constitutes ‘first’ I suppose. I had this in mind with the use of ‘one of’ for that very reason.

      And as with Dimoprhodon I was being careful by noting he ‘described it’ since it was Owen who named it. I do know this you know… 😉

  2. 3 David B. Williams 09/07/2010 at 11:22 pm

    Always nice to highlight Buckland’s contributions to paleontology. Of course, he is also famous for his pioneering work in coprolites, as well as for his notorious penchant for consuming nearly any food put in front of him.

  3. 4 Darren Naish 10/07/2010 at 7:32 pm

    Thecodontosaurus pre-dates Megalosaurus? Err, the former is 1836, the latter 1824.

    • 5 David Hone 10/07/2010 at 11:31 pm

      Really? Oops. I’m sure I read this at Bristol as part of the Theco stuff done there. Oh dear, might have made a wee non-checking the facts error there….

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