Richard Butler

Colleges, School and Institutes

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. Ph.D. (NERC-CASE funded). University of Cambridge and Natural History Museum, London. 
  • 1999–2002. BSc. Geology (First Class Honours). 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 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. 

Willingness to take PhD students



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

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