Professor Richard Butler PhD

Professor Richard Butler

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Professor of Palaeobiology

Contact details

Address
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Richard is a vertebrate palaeontologist with expertise in the systematics, evolution and biogeography of late Palaeozoic to Mesozoic reptiles. His current research programme aims to establish major patterns and drivers of terrestrial biodiversity change, as exemplified by four-limbed vertebrates (tetrapods), over the last 375 million years. He is also interested in the origin and dramatic evolutionary radiation of dinosaurs and closely related fossil groups in the aftermath of the Permo-Triassic mass extinction, the largest extinction event in the history of life on Earth.

Qualifications

2007 – PhD, University of Cambridge
2002 – BSc Geology, University of Bristol

Biography

Richard is a vertebrate palaeontologist with expertise in the systematics, evolution and biogeography of late Palaeozoic to Mesozoic reptiles. His current research programme aims to establish major patterns and drivers of terrestrial biodiversity change, as exemplified by four-limbed vertebrates (tetrapods), over the last 375 million years. He is also interested in the origin and dramatic evolutionary radiation of dinosaurs and closely related fossil groups in the aftermath of the Permo-Triassic mass extinction, the largest extinction event in the history of life on Earth.

  • 2017–. Professor of Palaeobiology (personal chair), University of Birmingham.
  • 2015–2017. Senior Birmingham Fellow and Academic Keeper of the Lapworth Museum of Geology, University of Birmingham.
  • 2013–2015. Birmingham Fellow, University of Birmingham
  • 2011–2013. Junior Research Group Leader, Emmy Noether Programme (DFG), GeoBio-Center, LMU, Munich, Germany. 
  • 2009–2011. Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowship. Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie, Munich, Germany
  • 2008–2009. NERC Researcher Co-Investigator. Natural History Museum London. 
  • 2006–2008. NERC Postdoctoral Research Assistant. Natural History Museum, London. 

Teaching

Richard supervises major/advanced projects, and contributes to teaching in the following areas:

  • Advanced projects
  • Evolution of vertebrates
  • Field skills

Research

  • Systematics, taxonomy, and anatomy of fossil reptiles, particularly dinosaurs and closely related groups
  • Terrestrial recovery from the Permo-Triassic mass extinction event
  • Phanerozoic and Mesozoic diversification patterns among vertebrates, and fossil record quality
  • Late Palaeozoic–Mesozoic vertebrate biogeography
  • Body size evolution and its drivers in deep time
  • Early evolution of the avian respiratory system, and lung ventilation among fossil archosaurs

Other activities

  • 2018–. REF lead, Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences, GEES, University of Birmingham
  • 2014–. Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • 2014–2018. Academic Keeper, Lapworth Museum of Geology, University of Birmingham
  • 2015–2018. Chair of Steering Group, Symposium on Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy (SVPCA)
  • 2012–2017. Program Committee, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
  • 2014–2016. Member of Council, the Palaeontological Association
  • 2013–2017. Executive Committee, the Paleobiology Database
  • 2013–2018. Editorial Board, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
  • 2013–. Editorial Board, Acta Palaeontologica Polonica
  • 2012–2014. Editorial Board, PLOS ONE
  • 2010–2013. Associate Editor, Paläontologische Zeitschrift
  • 2008–2011. Section Editor, Fossil Reptiles, Zootaxa

Publications

Recent publications

Article

Bird, H, Milner, A, Shillito, A & Butler, R 2019, 'A lower Carboniferous (Visean) tetrapod trackway represents the earliest record of an edopoid amphibian from the UK', Geological Society. Journal.

Cashmore, D & Butler, R 2019, 'Skeletal completeness of the non-avian theropod dinosaur fossil record', Palaeontology, vol. 62, no. 6, pp. 951-981. https://doi.org/10.1111/pala.12436

Butler, R, Sennikov, AG, Dunne, E, Ezcurra, M, Hedrick, B, Maidment, S, Meade, L, Raven, T & Gower, D 2019, 'Cranial anatomy and taxonomy of the erythrosuchid archosauriform ‘Vjushkovia triplicostata’ Huene, 1960 from the Early Triassic of European Russia', Royal Society Open Science.

Butler, R, Jones, A, Buffetaut, E, Mandl, G, Scheyer, T & Schultz, O 2019, 'Description and phylogenetic placement of a new marine species of phytosaur (Archosauriformes: Phytosauria) from the Late Triassic of Austria', Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol. 187, no. 1, pp. 198-228. https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlz014

Brown, E, Cashmore, D, Simmons, N & Butler, R 2019, 'Quantifying the completeness of the bat fossil record', Palaeontology, vol. 62, no. 5, pp. 757-776. https://doi.org/10.1111/pala.12426

Lehmann, O, Ezcurra, M, Butler, R & Lloyd, G 2019, 'Biases with the Generalized Euclidean Distance measure in disparity analyses with high levels of missing data', Palaeontology, vol. 62, no. 5, pp. 837-849. https://doi.org/10.1111/pala.12430

Tolchard, F, Nesbitt, S, Desojo, J, Viglietti, P, Butler, R & Choiniere, J 2019, ''Rauisuchian' material from the lower Elliot Formation of South Africa: implications for Late Triassic biogeography and biostratigraphy', Journal of African Earth Sciences, vol. 160, pp. 103610.

Lorena Godoy, P, Benson, RBJ, Bronzati, M & Butler, R 2019, 'The multi-peak adaptive landscape of crocodylomorph body size evolution', BMC Evolutionary Biology, vol. 19, no. 1, 167. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-019-1466-4

Brown, E, Butler, R, Ezcurra, M, Bhullar, B-A & Lautenschlager, S 2019, 'Endocranial anatomy and life habits of the Early Triassic archosauriform Proterosuchus fergusi', Palaeontology.

Butler, R, Sennikov, AG, Ezcurra, M & Gower, D 2019, 'The last erythrosuchid? A revision of Chalishevia cothurnata Ochev, 1980 from the late Middle Triassic of European Russia.', Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

Kammerer, C, Viglietti, P, Hancox, J, Butler, R & Choiniere, J 2019, 'A new kannemeyeriiform dicynodont (Ufudocyclops mukanelai gen. et sp. nov.) from Subzone C of the Cynognathus Assemblage Zone (Triassic of South Africa) with implications for biostratigraphic correlation with other African Triassic faunas', Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. https://doi.org/10.1080/02724634.2019.1596921

De Almeida Marsola, JC, Ferreira, G, Langer, M, Button, D & Butler, R 2019, 'Increases in sampling support the southern Gondwanan hypothesis for the origin of dinosaurs', Palaeontology, vol. 62, no. 3, pp. 473-482. https://doi.org/10.1111/pala.12411

Ezcurra, M, Gower, D, Sennikov, A & Butler, R 2019, 'The osteology of the holotype of the early erythrosuchid Garjainia prima Ochev, 1958 (Diapsida: Archosauromorpha) from the upper Lower Triassic of European Russia', Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol. 185, no. 3, pp. 717-783. https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zly061

Butler, R, Ezcurra, M, Liu, J, Sookias, R & Sullivan, C 2019, 'The anatomy and phylogenetic position of the erythrosuchid archosauriform Guchengosuchus shiguaiensis from the earliest Middle Triassic of China', PeerJ, vol. 7, no. 2, e6435. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.6435

Close, R, Benson, RBJ, Alroy, J, Behrensmeyer, A, Benito Moreno, J, Carrano, MT, Cleary, T, Dunne, E, Mannion, PD, Uhen, M & Butler, R 2019, 'Diversity dynamics of Phanerozoic terrestrial tetrapods at the local community scale', Nature Ecology and Evolution, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 590-597. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-019-0811-8

View all publications in research portal

Expertise

Dinosaurs, vertebrate palaeontology, fossils