Professor Richard Butler PhD

Professor Richard Butler

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Professor of Palaeobiology
Director of Global Engagement, 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 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 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 Global Engagement for the College of Life & Environmental Sciences and the University's REF2021 lead for Earth and Environmental Sciences.

  • 2020–. Director of Global Engagement, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham.
  • 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

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. 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

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. <http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/>

Cashmore, D, Butler, R & Maidment, S 2021, 'Taxonomic identification bias does not drive patterns of abundance and diversity in theropod dinosaurs', Biology Letters, vol. 17, no. 7, 20210168. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2021.0168

Breeden, B, Raven, T, Butler, R, Rowe, T & Maidment, S 2021, 'The anatomy and palaeobiology of the early armoured dinosaur Scutellosaurus lawleri (Ornithischia: Thyreophora) from the Kayenta Formation (Lower Jurassic) of Arizona', Royal Society Open Science, vol. 8, no. 7, 201676. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.201676

Bird, H, Milner, A, Shillito, A & Butler, R 2020, 'A lower Carboniferous (Visean) tetrapod trackway represents the earliest record of an edopoid amphibian from the UK', Geological Society. Journal, vol. 177, no. 2, pp. 276-282. https://doi.org/10.1144/jgs2019-149

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, vol. 237, no. 2, pp. 323-333. https://doi.org/10.1111/joa.13192

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, vol. 7, no. 3, 192179. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.192179

Bestwick, J, Jones, A, Purnell, M & Butler, R 2020, 'Dietary constraints of phytosaurian reptiles revealed by dental microwear textural analysis', Palaeontology, vol. 2020, 12515. https://doi.org/10.1111/pala.12515

Bestwick, J, Unwin, D, Butler, R & Purnell, M 2020, 'Dietary diversity and evolution of the earliest flying vertebrates revealed by dental microwear texture analysis', Nature Communications, vol. 2020, 5293. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19022-2

Panciroli, E, Benson, RBJ, Walsh, S, Butler, R, Castro, T, Jones, M & Evans, SE 2020, 'Diverse vertebrate assemblage of the Kilmaluag Formation (Bathonian, Middle Jurassic) of Skye, Scotland', Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. <https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/earth-and-environmental-science-transactions-of-royal-society-of-edinburgh/article/diverse-vertebrate-assemblage-of-the-kilmaluag-formation-bathonian-middle-jurassic-of-skye-scotland/B8DD4D46839FA83FA2E57437BDEBF2B8>

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Expertise

Dinosaurs, vertebrate palaeontology, fossils