The Triassic Period (252–200 million years ago) was a critical phase of Earth history, which saw major changes amongst terrestrial vertebrate communities that have been dubbed “The Great Transition”. The Archosauromorpha, a highly diverse group of reptiles (including dinosaurs, pterosaurs, crocodiles and birds), diversified, subsequently dominating land-living communities, primarily in the form of dinosaurs, for the remainder of the Mesozoic (~200–65 million years ago).
Understanding the early archosauromorph radiation is fundamental to understanding the rise of dinosaur-dominated communities, but scientific progress has been hampered by poor understanding of the anatomy, taxonomy and phylogeny of most early archosauromorph groups and the fact that the diversification and biogeography of early archosauromorphs have only rarely been examined using quantitative approaches.
This project involves extensive anatomical, taxonomic and phylogenetic revisions of several key groups of early archosauromorphs, with the aim of establishing their species level diversity, monophyly, and geographic and stratigraphic distributions. Morphological and systematic data will be used to quantitatively address questions relating to the timing, pattern, driving factors and rate of early archosauromorph diversification, and Triassic biogeography. This work aims to lay a foundation for a more complete understanding of the dawn of Mesozoic terrestrial ecosystems.
Members of staff involved:
German Research Foundation (DFG)
Butler RJ. 2013. “Francosuchus” trauthi is not Paleorhinus: implications for Late Triassic vertebrate biostratigraphy. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 33: 858–864.
Ezcurra MD, Butler RJ, Gower DJ. 2013. Proterosuchia: the origin and early history of Archosauriformes. In: Anatomy, Phylogeny and Palaeobiology of Early Archosaurs and their Kin, Nesbitt SJ, Desojo JB, Irmis RB (eds). Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 379.
Sookias RB, Butler RJ. 2013. Euparkeriidae. In: Anatomy, Phylogeny and Palaeobiology of Early Archosaurs and their Kin, Nesbitt SJ, Desojo JB, Irmis RB (eds). Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 379. (10.1144/SP379.6)
Stocker MR, Butler RJ. 2013. Phytosauria. In: Anatomy, Phylogeny and Palaeobiology of Early Archosaurs and their Kin, Nesbitt SJ, Desojo JB, Irmis RB (eds). Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 379. (10.1144/SP379.5)
Toljagić O, Butler RJ. 2013. The Triassic/Jurassic mass extinction as trigger for the Mesozoic radiation of crocodylomorphs. Biology Letters 9: 20130095.
Nesbitt SJ, Butler RJ. 2013. Redescription of the archosaur Parringtonia gracilis from the Middle Triassic Manda Beds of Tanzania, and the antiquity of Erpetosuchidae. Geological Magazine 150: 225–238.
Sookias RB, Benson RBJ, Butler RJ. 2012. Biology, not environment, drives major temporal patterns in terrestrial tetrapod body size. Biology Letters 8: 674–677.
Sookias RB, Butler RJ, Benson RBJ. 2012. Rise of dinosaurs reveals major body size transitions are driven by passive processes of trait evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279: 2180–2187.
Key periods of data collection/fieldwork activity:
September 2011–August 2014
Opportunities (e.g. PhD proposals):
Postdoctoral-level researchers interested in getting involved in this research project should contact Richard Butler to explore possibilities through EU and other funding sources.