William Buckland (12 March 1784 – 14 August 1856) was an English theologian who became Dean of Westminster. He was also a geologist and palaeontologist. Buckland wrote the first full account of
a fossil dinosaur, which he named Megalosaurus. His work proved that Kirkdale Cave had been a prehistoric hyena den, for which he was awarded the Copley Medal. It was praised as an example of how scientific analysis could reconstruct distant events. He pioneered the use of fossilised faeces in reconstructing ecosystems, coining the term coprolites.
Buckland followed the Gap Theory in interpreting the biblical account of Genesis as two widely separated episodes of creation. It had emerged as a way to reconcile the scriptural account with discoveries in geology suggesting the earth was very old. Early in his career Buckland believed he had found evidence of the biblical flood, but later saw that the glaciation theory of Louis Agassiz gave a better explanation, and played a significant role in promoting it.
He continued to live in Corpus Christi College and, in 1824, he became president of the Geological Society of London. Here he announced the discovery, at Stonesfield, of fossil bones of a giant reptile which he named Megalosaurus ('great lizard') and wrote the first full account of what would later be called a dinosaur.
In 1825, Buckland was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. That year he resigned his college fellowship: he planned to take up the living of Stoke Charity in Hampshire but, before he could take up the appointment, he was made a Canon of Christ Church, a rich reward for academic distinction without serious administrative responsibilities.