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William Buckland
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    (March 12, 1784-August 14, 1856)
    Born in Axminster, Devon, England, United Kingdom
    Anglican priest, theologian, geologist and paleontologist
    Dean of Westminster (1845-56)
    Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (1818)
    Elected President of the Geological Society of London (1824)
    Wrote ‘Geology and Mineralogy Considered with Reference to Natural Theology (1836)
    He refused to believe that humans had existed at the same time as any extinct animals, so when he found a human skeleton among the bones of wooly mammoths in Pavland Cave (1823), he concluded that the remains had been buried in historical times, possibly by the same people who had built some nearby pre-Roman fortifications. (Carbon dating later showed that the bones were 33,000 years old.)
    He liked to do his field work while wearing his academic gown.
    He had a table at home inlaid with dinosaur coprolites (preserved fossil feces).
    He attempted to eat his way through the entire animal kingdom, and served dishes made from panthers, alligators and mice to dinner guests.
    He reportedly ate the preserved heart of Louis XIV, commenting ‘I have eaten many strange things, but have never eaten the heart of a king before.’
    He wrote the first scientific account of a dinosaur, Megalosaurus (1824).
    He coined the word coprolite and was able to use coprolites collected by Mary Anning to reconstruct the food chain in the sea that once covered Dorset.
    After a meeting with Louis Agassiz, he conceded that the geological evidence he had been collecting to prove the historicity of Noah’s Flood was better explained by Agassiz’s Ice Age theories.
    As Dean of Westminster, he was involved with the repair and maintenance of the famed Abbey.

Credit: C. Fishel

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