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 ( http://www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/william-buckland ).
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.