February 20th 2024 is the bicentenary of a very notable meeting of the Geological Society of London, where the first scientific accounts of Plesiosaurus and Megalosaurus, were given in papers read by William Daniel Conybeare and William Buckland respectively, at which Buckland claimed his bones revealed an 'enormous fossil animal' and Conybeare his specimen 'an almost perfect skeleton'. Famously, the plesiousaur had been discovered in Dorset two months earlier by Mary Anning. And equally famously, Buckland's announcement of his great fossil lizard was the first scientific description of a dinosaur - although that particular term was not coined until 1842 (by Richard Owen).
Prof Hugh Torrens has remarked: "This was one of the most important, if not the most important, meeting of the early Geological Society", and indeed these announcements were to have significant impacts on geology and the geological imagination of 'ancient worlds’.
Thirteen leading and authoritative speakers have been assembled to explore and discuss historical aspects linked to Buckland, Conybeare, the Megalosaurus and Plesiosaurus specimens, the context of their discovery, scientific treatment and the consequent influence and impact on geology, palaeontology and cultural imaginations of ‘ancient worlds’. The symposium aims to draw to together these different aspects and produce a holistic perspective not previously presented.
The programme includes opportunity to view key specimens and archive material linked to this history of geology and held in the collections of OUMNH.
See event website for programme details and registration.