Professor Richard Butler PhD

Professor Richard Butler

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Professor of Palaeobiology
Director of Research, College of Life and Environmental Sciences

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 research addresses major patterns and drivers of biodiversity change through deep time, particularly 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. In addition to research, he acts as Director of Research for the College of Life & Environmental Sciences. 

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 research addresses major patterns and drivers of biodiversity change through deep time, particularly 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. In addition to research, he acts as Director of Research for the College of Life & Environmental Sciences.

  • 2022–. Director of Research & Knowledge Transfer, College of Life & Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham.
  • 2020–2022. Director of Global Engagement, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham.
  • 2017–. Professor of Palaeobiology, University of Birmingham.
  • 2015–2017. Senior Birmingham Fellow, University of Birmingham.
  • 2013–2018. 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
  • 2006–2009. NERC Postdoctoral Researcher. Natural History Museum London. 

Teaching

Richard supervises major/advanced projects and makes contributions to a number of other modules, including Palaeontology Field & Museum 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

  • 2021–2022. Vice-President, Palaeontological Association.
  • 2021–. Scientific Advisory Board of the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont, Catalonia.
  • 2021–. Advisory Board, Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
  • 2021–. Member, Jurassic Coast Trust Collection Working Group.
  • 2021–. Editorial Board, Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.
  • 2020–2022. Director of Global Engagement, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham.
  • 2018–2021. REF lead, UoA7 Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences, GEES, University of Birmingham
  • 2013–2018. 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

Butler, R, Fernandez, V, Nesbitt, SJ, Leite, JV & Gower, D 2022, 'A new pseudosuchian archosaur, Mambawakale ruhuhu gen. et sp. nov., from the Middle Triassic Manda Beds of Tanzania', Royal Society Open Science, vol. 9, no. 2, 211622. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.211622

Brown, E, Butler, R, Barrett, P & Maidment, S 2022, 'Assessing conflict between early neornithischian tree topologies', Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. https://doi.org/10.1080/14772019.2022.2032433

Ma, WS, Pittman, M, Butler, R & Lautenschlager, S 2022, 'Macroevolutionary trends in theropod dinosaur feeding mechanics', Current Biology, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 677-686.e3. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2021.11.060

Prondvai, E, Kocsis, AT, Abourachid, A, Adriaens, D, Godefroit, P, Hu, D-Y & Butler, R 2022, 'Radial porosity profiles: a new bone histological method for comparative developmental analysis of diametric limb bone growth', Royal Society Open Science, vol. 9, 211893. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.211893

Benson, RBJ, Godoy, P, Bronzati, M, Butler, R & Gearty, W 2022, 'Reconstructed evolutionary patterns for crocodile-line archosaurs demonstrate impact of failure to log-transform body size data', Communications Biology, vol. 5, no. 1, 171. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-022-03071-y

Bestwick, J, Godoy, P, Maidment, S, Ezcurra, M, Wroe, M, Raven, T, Bonsor, J & Butler, R 2022, 'Relative skull size evolution in Mesozoic archosauromorphs: potential drivers and morphological uniqueness of erythrosuchid archosauriforms', Palaeontology, vol. 65, no. 3, e12599. https://doi.org/10.1111/pala.12599

Radermacher, V, Fernandez, V, Schachner, E, Butler, R, Bordy, E, Hudgins, M, de Klerk, W, Chapelle, K & Choiniere, J 2021, 'A new Heterodontosaurus specimen elucidates the unique ventilatory macroevolution of ornithischian dinosaurs', eLife, vol. 10, e66036. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.66036

Tolchard, F, Kammerer, C, Butler, R, Hendrickx, C, Benoit, J, Abdala, F & Choiniere, JN 2021, 'A new large gomphodont from the Triassic of South Africa and its implications for Gondwanan biostratigraphy', Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, vol. 41, no. 2, e1929265. https://doi.org/10.1080/02724634.2021.1929265

Ezcurra, M, Butler, R, Maidment, S, Sansom, I, Meade, L & Radley, J 2021, 'A revision of the early neotheropod genus Sarcosaurus from the Early Jurassic (Hettangian–Sinemurian) of central England', Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol. 191, no. 1, pp. 113-149. https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlaa054

Dunne, E, Farnsworth, A, Greene, S, Lunt, DJ & Butler, R 2021, 'Climatic drivers of latitudinal variation in Late Triassic tetrapod diversity', Palaeontology, vol. 64, no. 1, pp. 101-117. https://doi.org/10.1111/pala.12514

Bestwick, J, Jones, A, Nesbitt, S, Lautenschlager, S, Rayfield, E, Cuff, AR, Button, D, Barrett, PM, Porro, LB & Butler, R 2021, 'Cranial functional morphology of the pseudosuchian Effigia and implications for its ecological role in the Triassic', The Anatomical record, pp. 1-28. https://doi.org/10.1002/ar.24827

Maidment, S, Dean, C, Mansergh, R & Butler, R 2021, 'Deep-time biodiversity patterns and the dinosaurian fossil record of the Late Cretaceous Western Interior, North America', Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences, vol. 288, no. 1953, 20210692. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2021.0692

Panciroli, E, Benson, RBJ, Fernandez, V, Butler, R, Fraser, N, Luo, Z-X & Walsh, S 2021, 'New species of mammaliaform and the cranium of Borealestes (Mammaliformes: Docodonta) from the Middle Jurassic of the British Isles', Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol. 2021, zlaa144. https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlaa144

Spiekman, S, Ezcurra, M, Butler, R, Fraser, N & Maidment, S 2021, 'Pendraig milnerae, a new small-sized coelophysoid theropod from the Late Triassic of Wales', Royal Society Open Science, vol. 8, no. 10, 210915. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.210915

Review article

Benson, RBJ, Butler, R, Close, R, Saupe, E & Rabosky, D 2021, 'Biodiversity across space and time in the fossil record', Current Biology, vol. 31, no. 19, pp. R1225-R1236. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2021.07.071

View all publications in research portal

Expertise

Dinosaurs, vertebrate palaeontology, fossils