ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
William Buckland (1784-1856), British geologist, caricatured wearing a 'costume of the glaciers'. Buckland was born at Axminster in Devon, and in his youth collected fossils with his father. He studied to be a clergyman at Oxford and was ordained in 1809. Buckland redefined the study of geology. He linked deposit type with local dynamic conditions, and used associated fossils to determine habitats and climate. In 1822 he proved that Kirkdale Cave in Yorkshire had once been the den for hyaenas, and identified remains of other species not now found in the British Isles. In 1824 he became the first person to describe a dinosaur, which he named Megalosaurus. He was a supporter of catastrophism, a theory that associated past geologic change with sudden, catastrophic happenings. He proposed evidence for the biblical flood but later supported Agassiz' theory of an ice age.
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