One Extremely Weird Story

Buckland’s great discovery–the first named dinosaur, Megalosaurus

I had a lot of trouble believing this, so I took some pains to check it out. And according to the official Westminster Abbey website, this outlandish anecdote is true ( ).

Every dinosaur nut knows the name of William Buckland (1784-1856)–clergyman, scholar, and one of the founders of the science of paleontology. He was the first man to scientifically describe and name a dinosaur, Megalosaurus bucklandi, before the term “dinosaur” was ever coined. So Dean Buckland is an important figure in the history of science.

In 1848, Buckland was invited to dinner at one of England’s great country houses, where he was shown a priceless family relic in a silver locket. It was a little piece of the mummified heart of King Louis XIV, the great king of France, the “Sun King” whose reign, power, wealth, and glory shone over Europe like the sun itself.

Buckland snatched up the shriveled bit of meat and ate it before anyone could stop him. Adios, priceless family relic.

In this he was only following a lifelong custom he had of eating strange things.


This was only the final indignity perpetrated on Louis XIV, who in his day had been the greatest man in Europe. When the French Revolution broke out, some 80 years after his death, the mob violated his tomb and destroyed his remains.

Dean Buckland, by the way, was one of the originators of the “Gap Theory” of interpreting Genesis–what we would also call an Old Earth creationist. He tried to reconcile a strict reading of the Scriptures–really, is there any other kind of reading that is properly respectful?–with current scientific findings: of which not a few were his own.

In all this strange history, there is much to contemplate.

12 comments on “One Extremely Weird Story

    1. If they can replace lawyers with machines, you can be sure there will soon be a law against it.

      I have no idea what benefit Dean Buckland enjoyed by eating bugs, weeds, and mummified flesh. He’s lucky he never poisoned himself. But he had other eccentricities–used to go out fossil-collecting and cave-exploring in–I kid you not!–his academic cap and gown. If he did that today, the men in the white coats would come for him.

    2. Wow! I just left a reply but it disappeared into the great void!

    3. I received it, Linda. There was some glitch in it that made it seem WordPress didn’t recognize you. But the next reply didn’t have the glitch.

  1. Well apparently he put it in his mouth before being told what it was, but still … that’s pretty weird. I mean, why not just say, “What is this?” before sampling something. Crazy crazy.

  2. That has to be one of the most disgusting things I have heard in some time, and that is really going some. I did once know a man who caught moths, etc and ate them. He was grossing out all the kids who were watching. By the way, he did not live to be very old. connection? dunno.

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