A Bucklin Dinosaur?
A few years ago, I was watching a Youtube video on dinosaurs and was really surprised when they mentioned William Buckland! I immediately emailed Uncle Ray Bucklin since he always seemed to know something about most everything. As an educator, he would often guide us to find our own answers, but this time he went into research mode.
Ray replied, “William Bucklin is probably the most famous Buckland. … He is one of those early guys who didn’t get a lot of stuff quite right, but helped lay the foundation for modern science.” Later that night, he had already figured out our common ancestor and showed how we were related.
William Buckland, a renowned geologist and paleontologist, lived from 1784 to 1856. He was a professor of geology at Oxford University. Buckland was a pioneer in the study of dinosaurs and is credited with scientifically describing and naming the first dinosaur, Megalosaurus, in 1824. A few years later, the species was given the name Megalosaurus bucklandi. The term dinosaur didn’t come into existence for over a decade. He also helped to develop the theory of catastrophism, which said that the Earth’s features were formed by sudden, violent events, such as floods and earthquakes. While the original concept of catastrophism has evolved, elements of it still exist within modern geology.
Megalosaurus, meaning “great lizard,” was a large carnivorous dinosaur that lived during the Middle Jurassic period, approximately 166 to 168 million years ago. Its discovery and Buckland’s subsequent research on this dinosaur were groundbreaking for the time. Megalosaurus served as one of the key pieces of evidence supporting the existence of ancient reptiles that once roamed the Earth.
The next time we met with Ray, we celebrated Mom’s birthday together and the gift Ray brought was a little Megalosaurus toy and he made it a name tag. While cleaning out his house, I found he had the same dino toy on the shelf next to his computer. It always surprised me that he managed to find a dinosaur toy based on a species I had never heard of. I guess being the “first dinosaur” makes the species toy worthy.
Given the similar body shape, you may wonder how related Megalosaurus is to T-Rex? They are both theropod dinosaurs, but they are not closely related and were separated by around 90 million years. Megalosaurus was around half the size, 23 to 33 feet long and 10 feet high at the hip.
Ray wrote, “So, the next time you are hanging out with a bunch of paleontologists or geologists, you can verify that yes, you are indeed related to William Buckland (1784-1856) of dinosaur fame. The common ancestors were John Buckland (1540-?) and Dorothy Father. It is possible that William Bucklin would have known his grandfather John Bucklin (1540-?) who would have been 66 when William was born.”
He calculated William Buckland (1784-1856) was Ray and Louise’s 8th cousin 3 times removed. For Van Landry and I’s generation, that would be 8th cousin 4 times removed.
John Buckland (abt. 1540) & Dorothy Father — Common Ancestors
- Hughe Buckland (abt. 1570)
- Thomas Buckland (1605)
- William Bucklin (1606-1683) 🦖
- John Buckland (1634)
- Lee Buckland (1655)
- Nicholas Buckland (abt. 1678 – 1731)
- Lee Buckland (1702 – abt. 1785)
- William Buckland (abt. 1725)
- Thomas Buckland (abt. 1757 – 1822)
- William Buckland (abt. 1784 – 1861)
- James Bucklin* (1821-1890) 👨🌾 (our ancestor, homesteaded in Louisiana)
I hope this glimpse into our family’s connection to William Buckland and his contributions to science has been interesting. I wish I had gotten around to writing it while Ray was still with us.
You can read Buckland’s original description of Megalosaurus.