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

Close, R, Benson, RBJ, Saupe, E, Clapham, M & Butler, R 2020, 'The spatial structure of Phanerozoic marine animal diversity', Science, vol. 368, no. 6489, pp. 420–424. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aay8309

Ezcurra, M, Butler, R, Maidment, S, Sansom, I, Meade, L & Radley, J 2020, 'A revision of the early neotheropod genus Sarcosaurus from the Early Jurassic (Hettangian–Sinemurian) of central England', Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Cashmore, D, Mannion, P, Upchurch, P & Butler, R 2020, 'Ten more years of discovery: revisiting the quality of the sauropodomorph dinosaur fossil record', Palaeontology.

Close, R, Benson, RBJ, Alroy, J, Carrano, MT, Cleary, T, Dunne, E, Mannion, P, Uhen, M & Butler, R 2020, 'The apparent exponential radiation of Phanerozoic land vertebrates is an artefact of spatial sampling biases', Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences.

Montefeitro, F, Lautenschlager, S, Godoy, P, Ferreira, G & Butler, R 2020, 'A unique predator in a unique ecosystem: modelling the apex predator within a Late Cretaceous crocodyliform-dominated fauna from Brazil', Journal of Anatomy.

Brown, E, Butler, R, Ezcurra, M, Bhullar, B-A & Lautenschlager, S 2020, 'Endocranial anatomy and life habits of the Early Triassic archosauriform Proterosuchus fergusi', Palaeontology, vol. 63, no. 2, pp. 255-282. https://doi.org/10.1111/pala.12454

Scheyer, TM, Spiekman, S, Sues, H-D, Ezcurra, M, Butler, R & Jones, M 2020, 'Colobops: a juvenile rhynchocephalian reptile (Lepidosauromorpha), not a diminutive archosauromorph with an unusually strong bite', Royal Society Open Science.

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. https://doi.org/10.1144/jgs2019-149

Tolchard, F, Nesbitt, S, Desojo, J, Viglietti, P, Butler, R & Choiniere, J 2019, ''Rauisuchian' material from the lower Elliot Formation of South Africa and Lesotho: implications for Late Triassic biogeography and biostratigraphy', Journal of African Earth Sciences, vol. 160, 103610. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2019.103610

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, vol. 6, no. 11, 191289. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.191289

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

Pinheiro, F, Oliveira, D & Butler, R 2019, 'Osteology of the archosauromorph Teyujagua paradoxa and the early evolution of the archosauriform skull', Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlz093

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

View all publications in research portal

Expertise

Dinosaurs, vertebrate palaeontology, fossils