Michael Benton

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Michael J. Benton
Professor Michael Benton FRS.jpg
Michael Benton in 2014, portrait via the Royal Society
Born 9 April 1956
Residence England
Nationality British
Fields Paleontology
Institutions University of Bristol
Alma mater
Doctoral students
Notable awards Lyell Medal (2005)
FRS (2014)[1]

Michael J. Benton FRS[1] (born 9 April 1956) is a British palaeontologist, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh,[2] and professor of vertebrate palaeontology in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol.[3] His published work has mostly concentrated on the evolution of Triassic reptiles but he has also worked on extinction events and faunal changes in the fossil record. His work appears in a variety of journals, including New Scientist.[4]

He is the author of several palaeontology text books (e.g. Vertebrate Palaeontology) and children's books.[5] He has also advised on many media productions including BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs and was a program consultant for Paleoworld on Discovery Science. His research interests include: Diversification of life, Quality of the fossil record, Shapes of phylogenies, Age-clade congruence, Mass extinctions,[6] Triassic ecosystem evolution, Basal diapsid phylogeny, Basal archosaurs, and The origin of the dinosaurs.

Benton has also been contributing in some documentaries. One of these was BBCs 2002 program The Day The Earth Nearly Died, which feature scientists as the deal with the mysteries of the Permian extinction. In December 2010, Benton got a rhynchosaur named Bentonyx in his honour.[7]

Journal publications[edit]

  • Sahney, S., Benton, M.J. and H.J. Falcon Lang 2010. Rainforest collapse triggered Pennsylvanian tetrapod diversification. Geology. 38: 1079–1082.
  • Sahney, S., Benton, M.J. and Paul Ferry 2010. "Links between global taxonomic diversity, ecological diversity and the expansion of vertebrates on land." Biology Letters.
  • Benton, J. 2009. "The Red Queen and the Court Jester: species diversity and the role of biotic and abiotic factors through time." Science 323, 728–732.
  • Lloyd, G. T., Davis, K. E., Pisani, D., Tarver, J. E., Ruta, M., Sakamoto, M., Hone, D. W. E., Jennings, R., and *Benton, M. J. 2008. "Dinosaurs and the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution." Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B 275, 2483–2490.
  • Sahney, S. and Benton, M.J., 2008. "Recovery from the most profound mass extinction of all time". Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B 275, 759–765.v
  • Benton, M. J. and Emerson, B. C. 2007. "How did life become so diverse? The dynamics of diversification according to the fossil record and molecular phylogenetics". Palaeontology 50: 23–40.
  • Benton, M.J. and Donoghue, P.C.J. 2007. "Palaeontological evidence to date the tree of life". Molecular Biology and Evolution 24, 26–53.


  • The phylogeny and classification of the tetrapods (1998, ed. Volumes 1 and 2)
  • Prehistoric Animals (1989)
  • Vertebrate palaeontology (1st edition, 1990; 2nd edition, 1997; 3rd edition, 2005; 4th edition, 2014)
  • On the trail of the dinosaurs (1990)
  • The reign of the reptiles (1991)
  • The rise of the mammals (1991)
  • The fossil record 2 (1993, ed.)
  • Dinosaur and Other Prehistoric Animal Fact Finder (1993)
  • Fossil reptiles of Great Britain (1995, with P. S. Spencer)
  • The Viking atlas of evolution (1997, with R. Osborne)
  • The Penguin historical atlas of the dinosaurs (1997)
  • Basic Palaeontology (1997, with D. A. T. Harper)
  • Walking with dinosaurs: the facts (2000)
  • The age of dinosaurs in Russia and Mongolia (2000, ed., with D. M. Unwin, M. A. Shishkin and E. N. Kurochkin)
  • Permian and Triassic red beds and the Penarth Group of Great Britain (2002, with E. Cook and P. J. Turner)
  • When life nearly died: the greatest mass extinction of all time (1st edition, 2003; 2nd edition, 2008)
  • Mesozoic and Tertiary fossil mammals and birds of Great Britain (2005, with L. Cook, D. Schreve, A Currant, and J. J. Hooker)
  • Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record (2009, with David A.T Harper)


  • Benton, Michael J. (2009). "Paleontology and the History of Life". In Michael Ruse & Joseph Travis. Evolution: The First Four Billion Years. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. pp. 80–104. ISBN 978-0-674-03175-3. 

Awards and honours[edit]

Benton was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014. His nomination reads


External links[edit]