Richard J Butler

Richard J Butler
University of Birmingham · School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

PhD

About

247
Publications
80,505
Reads
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6,167
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2013 - present
University of Birmingham
Position
  • Professor
September 2011 - July 2013
Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich
Position
  • Junior Research Group Leader (DFG Emmy Noether Programme)
April 2009 - July 2011
Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie
Position
  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowship
Education
October 2002 - January 2007
University of Cambridge
Field of study
  • Earth Sciences
September 1999 - June 2002
University of Bristol
Field of study
  • Geology

Publications

Publications (247)
Article
Acanthodians are a poorly understood paraphyletic grade of extinct Palaeozoic fishes. They play an increasingly prominent role in our understanding of vertebrate evolution as part of the chondrichthyan stem‐group even though their evolutionary history is scarce. The limited preservation of their mostly cartilaginous skeleton largely results in a bi...
Article
Full-text available
Little is known about the large‐scale evolutionary patterns of skull size relative to body size, and the possible drivers behind these patterns, in Archosauromorpha. For example, the large skulls of erythrosuchids, a group of non‐archosaurian archosauromorphs from the Early and Middle Triassic, and of theropod dinosaurs are regarded as convergent a...
Preprint
Estimates of deep-time biodiversity typically rely on statistical methods to mitigate the impacts of sampling biases in the fossil record. However, these methods are limited by the spatial and temporal scale of the underlying data. Here, we use a spatially explicit mechanistic model, based on neutral theory, to test hypotheses of early tetrapod div...
Article
Full-text available
The Manda Beds of southwest Tanzania have yielded key insights into the early evolutionary radiation of archosaurian reptiles. Many key archosaur specimens were collected from the Manda Beds in the 1930s and 1960s, but until recently, few of these had been formally published. Here, we describe an archosaur specimen collected in 1963 which has previ...
Article
Theropod dinosaurs underwent some of the most remarkable dietary changes in vertebrate evolutionary history, shifting from ancestral carnivory1, 2, 3 to hypercarnivory⁴,⁵ and omnivory/herbivory,6, 7, 8, 9 with some taxa eventually reverting to carnivory.10, 11, 12 The mandible is an important tool for food acquisition in vertebrates and reflects ad...
Article
Pseudosuchians, archosaurian reptiles more closely related to crocodylians than to birds, exhibited high morphological diversity during the Triassic with numerous examples of morphological convergence described between Triassic pseudosuchians and post‐Triassic dinosaurs. One example is the shuvosaurid Effigia okeeffeae which exhibits an “ostrich‐li...
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We describe a new small-bodied coelophysoid theropod dinosaur, Pendraig milnerae gen. et sp. nov, from the Late Triassic fissure fill deposits of Pant-y-ffynnon in southern Wales. The species is represented by the holotype, consisting of an articulated pelvic girdle, sacrum and posterior dorsal vertebrae, and an associated left femur, and by two re...
Article
A partial skull (BP/1/7976) of a very large cynodont from the Middle Triassic Cynognathus Assemblage Zone (Cricodon-Ufudocyclops subzone) of South Africa is described. The specimen represents a new gomphodont taxon, Impidens hancoxi, gen. et sp. nov., diagnosed by five sectorial teeth constituting just over half of the length of the upper postcanin...
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The armoured dinosaurs, Thyreophora, were a diverse clade of ornithischians known from the Early Jurassic to the end of the Cretaceous. During the Middle and Late Jurassic, the thyreophorans radiated to evolve large body size, quadrupedality, and complex chewing mechanisms, and members of the group include some of the most iconic dinosaurs, includi...
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Ornithischian dinosaurs were ecologically prominent herbivores of the Mesozoic Era that achieved a global distribution by the onset of the Cretaceous. The ornithischian body plan is aberrant relative to other ornithodiran clades, and crucial details of their early evolution remain obscure. We present a new, fully articulated skeleton of the early b...
Article
The ability of palaeontologists to correctly diagnose and classify new fossil species from incomplete morphological data is fundamental to our understanding of evolution. Different parts of the vertebrate skeleton have different likelihoods of fossil preservation and varying amounts of taxonomic information, which could bias our interpretations of...
Article
In order for palaeontological data to be informative to ecologists seeking to understand the causes of today's diversity patterns, palaeontologists must demonstrate that actual biodiversity patterns are preserved in our reconstructions of past ecosystems. During the Late Cretaceous, North America was divided into two landmasses, Laramidia and Appal...
Preprint
Full-text available
Pseudosuchia includes crocodylians, plus all extinct species more closely related to them than to birds. They appeared around 250 million years ago and have a rich fossil history, showing extinct diversity that exceeds that of their living members1-4. Recently, Stockdale & Benton5 presented analyses of a new dataset of body size estimates spanning...
Article
Docodonta are one of the earliest diverging groups of mammaliaforms, and their morphology provides key information on the transition between non-mammalian cynodonts and Mammalia. We describe the partial skulls of two docodontans Borealestes serendipitus and Borealestes cuillinensis sp. nov. from the Kilmaluag Formation (Middle Jurassic: Bathonian),...
Article
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Erythrosuchidae were large-bodied, quadrupedal, predatory archosauriforms that dominated the hypercarnivorous niche in the aftermath of the Permo-Triassic mass extinction. Garjainia , one of the oldest members of the clade, is known from the late Olenekian of European Russia. The holotype of Garjainia prima comprises a well-preserved skull, but hig...
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Phytosaurs are a group of large, semi-aquatic archosaurian reptiles from the Middle-Late Triassic. They have often been interpreted as carnivorous or piscivorous due to their large size, morphological similarity to extant crocodilians and preservation in fluvial, lacustrine and coastal deposits. However, these dietary hypotheses are difficult to te...
Article
The Late Triassic fauna of the Lossiemouth Sandstone Formation (LSF) from the Elgin area, Scotland, has been pivotal in expanding our understanding of Triassic terrestrial tetrapods. Frustratingly, due to their odd preservation, interpretations of the Elgin Triassic specimens have relied on destructive moulding techniques, which only provide incomp...
Article
The Kilmaluag Formation on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, provides one of the richest Mesozoic vertebrate fossil assemblages in the UK, and is among the richest globally for Middle Jurassic tetrapods. Since its discovery in 1971, this assemblage has predominantly yielded small-bodied tetrapods, including salamanders, choristoderes, lepidosaurs, turtle...
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Full-text available
Spatiotemporal changes in fossil specimen completeness can bias our understanding of a group's evolutionary history. The quality of the sauropodomorph fossil record was assessed a decade ago, but the number of valid species has since increased by 60%, and 17% of the taxa from that study have since undergone taxonomic revision. Here, we assess how 1...
Article
Neotheropoda represents the main evolutionary radiation of predatory dinosaurs and its oldest records come from Upper Triassic rocks (c. 219 Mya). The Early Jurassic record of Neotheropoda is taxonomically richer and geographically more widespread than that of the Late Triassic. The Lower Jurassic (upper Hettangian–lower Sinemurian) rocks of centra...
Article
Archosauriformes are a major group of fossil and living reptiles that include the crown group Archosauria (birds, crocodilians and their extinct relatives) and closely related taxa. Archosauriformes are characterized by a highly diagnostic skull architecture, which is linked to the predatory habits of their early representatives, and the developmen...
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There is no consensus about how terrestrial biodiversity was assembled through deep time, and in particular whether it has risen exponentially over the Phanerozoic. Using a database of 60 859 fossil occurrences, we show that the spatial extent of the worldwide terrestrial tetrapod fossil record itself expands exponentially through the Phanerozoic....
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Full-text available
Theropod dinosaurs were relatively scarce in the Late Cretaceous ecosystems of southeast Brazil. Instead, hypercarnivorous crocodyliforms known as baurusuchids were abundant and probably occupied the ecological role of apex predators. Baurusuchids exhibited a series of morphological adaptations hypothesized to be associated with this ecological rol...
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Correctly identifying taxa at the root of major clades or the oldest clade-representatives is critical for meaningful interpretations of evolution. A small, partially crushed skull from the Late Triassic (Norian) of Connecticut, USA, originally described as an indeterminate rhynchocephalian saurian, was recently named Colobops noviportensis and rei...
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Erythrosuchidae are a globally distributed and important group of apex predators that occupied Early and Middle Triassic terrestrial ecosystems following the Permo-Triassic mass extinction. The stratigraphically oldest known genus of Erythrosuchidae is Garjainia Ochev, 1958, which is known from the late Early Triassic (late Olenekian) of European R...
Preprint
Full-text available
Theropod dinosaurs were relatively scarce in the Late Cretaceous ecosystems of southeast Brazil. Instead, the abundant hypercarnivore crocodyliforms known as baurusuchids were probably playing the ecological role as apex predators. Baurusuchids exhibited a series of morphological adaptations associated to this ecological role, but quantitative biom...
Article
Proterosuchids are an important group of carnivorous basal archosauriforms characterized by a bizarre and enigmatic downturned premaxilla that overhangs the lower jaw. They are particularly significant because they radiated in the immediate aftermath of the Permian–Triassic mass extinction and represent one of the best known ‘disaster taxa’ followi...
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Background: Little is known about the long-term patterns of body size evolution in Crocodylomorpha, the > 200-million-year-old group that includes living crocodylians and their extinct relatives. Extant crocodylians are mostly large-bodied (3-7 m) predators. However, extinct crocodylomorphs exhibit a wider range of phenotypes, and many of the earl...
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Non‐avian theropods were a highly successful clade of bipedal, predominantly carnivorous, dinosaurs. Their diversity and macroevolutionary patterns have been the subject of many studies. Changes in fossil specimen completeness through time and space can bias our understanding of macroevolution. Here, we quantify the completeness of 455 non‐avian th...
Article
The Generalized Euclidean Distance (GED) measure has been extensively used to conduct morphological disparity analyses based on palaeontological matrices of discrete characters. This is in part because some implementations allow the use of morphological matrices with high percentages of missing data without needing to prune taxa for a subsequent or...
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The fossil record provides one of the strongest tests of the hypothesis that diversity within local communities is constrained over geological timescales. Constraints to diversity are particularly controversial in modern terrestrial ecosystems, yet long-term patterns are poorly understood. Here we document patterns of local richness in Phanerozoic...
Article
Bats (Chiroptera) are one of the most successful extant mammalian orders, uniquely capable of powered flight and laryngeal echolocation. The timing and evidence for evolution of their novel adaptations have been difficult to ascertain from the fossil record due to chronological gaps and the fragmentary nature of most fossil bat material. Here, we q...
Article
Full-text available
Erythrosuchidae is a clade of early archosauriform reptiles, which were apex predators in many late Early and Middle Triassic ecosystems, following the Permo-Triassic mass extinction. Erythrosuchids had a worldwide distribution, with well-preserved fossil material known from South Africa, European Russia, and China. We here redescribe the anatomy a...
Article
The Late Triassic (Carnian) upper Santa Maria Formation of south Brazil has yielded some of the oldest unequivocal records of dinosaurs. Here, we describe a new saurischian dinosaur from this formation, Nhandumirim waldsangae, gen. et sp. nov., based on a semiarticulated skeleton, including trunk, sacral, and caudal vertebrae, one chevron, right il...
Article
Full-text available
Archosauriformes are a major group of fossil and living reptiles that include the crown group Archosauria (birds, crocodilians and their extinct relatives) and closely related taxa. Archosauriformes are characterized by a highly diagnostic skull architecture, which is linked to the predatory habits of their early representatives, and the developmen...
Article
Full-text available
Dinosaurs were ubiquitous in terrestrial ecosystems through most of the Mesozoic and are still diversely represented in the modern fauna in the form of birds. Recent efforts to better understand the origins of the group have resulted in the discovery of many new species of early dinosaur and their closest relatives (dinosauromorphs). In addition, r...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Little is known about the long-term patterns of body size evolution in Crocodylomorpha, the > 200-million-year-old group that includes living crocodylians and their extinct relatives. Extant crocodylians include 24 species and span a narrow range of phenotypes, being mostly large-bodied (3-7 m) semi-aquatic predators. However, extinct c...
Article
Full-text available
One of the key faunal transitions in Earth history occurred after the Permo-Triassic mass extinction (ca 252.2 Ma), when the previously obscure archosauromorphs (which include crocodylians, dinosaurs and birds) become the dominant terrestrial vertebrates. Here, we place all known middle Permian-early Late Triassic archosauromorph species into an ex...
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The southern supercontinent of Gondwana was home to an extraordinary diversity of stem-crocodylians (Crocodyliformes) during the Late Cretaceous. The remarkable morphological disparity of notosuchian crocodyliforms indicates that this group filled a wide range of ecological roles more frequently occupied by other vertebrates. Among notosuchians, th...
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The Carboniferous and early Permian were critical intervals in the diversification of early four-limbed vertebrates (tetrapods), yet the major patterns of diversity and biogeography during this time remain unresolved. Previous estimates suggest that global tetrapod diversity rose continuously across this interval and that habitat fragmentation foll...
Article
The diverse assemblage of extinct archosaur species known from the Manda Beds of Tanzania has provided key insights into the timing and tempo of the early part of the archosaur radiation during the Middle Triassic. Several archosaur specimens were collected from the Manda Beds in 1933 by F. R. Parrington, and three of these were subsequently descri...
Article
Bird-line archosaurs (= Avemetatarsalia, the clade containing birds, dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and their kin) originated in the Triassic Period. However, the earliest evolution of this group is poorly documented because fossils are extremely rare and consist mostly of postcrania. Here, we document the osteology of Teleocrater rhadinus, an early avemet...
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Full-text available
Mass extinctions have profoundly impacted the evolution of life through not only reducing taxonomic diversity but also reshaping ecosystems and biogeographic patterns. In particular, they are considered to have driven increased biogeographic cosmopolitanism, but quantitative tests of this hypothesis are rare and have not explicitly incorporated inf...