Dr Richard Butler

Dr Richard Butler, of the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, describes, in 60 seconds, his research into the origin and diversification of dinosaurs.

 

I’m Richard Butler, a Birmingham Fellow and vertebrate palaeontologist at the University of Birmingham.

My research focuses on the origin and diversification of dinosaurs and the larger group of reptiles to which they belong, the archosaurs. Archosaurs were the dominant vertebrates on land for 150 million years, and even today there are more than 10,000 living species of archosaur, in the form of birds and crocodiles. I'm particularly interested in understanding the impacts of mass extinction events on archosaur evolution, such as the extinction which occurred 200 million years ago at the end of the Triassic Period.

To do this we hunt for new vertebrate fossils in places such as South Africa, and we visit museums in countries such as Russia and China to collect anatomical data. We use this data to build evolutionary trees of early dinosaurs and other archosaurs, and we use these trees to understand how species diversity, ecology and body size changed through geological time. Our ultimate goal is to understand what it was about dinosaurs and their relatives that allowed them to become so incredibly successful for such a long period of time.

Dr Richard Butler's profile