Richard Butler


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Research interests

  • 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


  • 2002–2007. PhD. University of Cambridge and Natural History Museum, London. 
  • 1999–2002. BSc Geology. Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol.


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. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


  • QE Geology
  • Vertebrate palaeontology
  • Biogeography
  • Systematics
  • Macroevolution


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