Mike Benton has been a leading figure in dinosaur research all through his career, and he has made contributions in four areas.
- He was the first to propose in 1983 that dinosaurs exploded onto the scene 230 million years ago following an extinction event, and this model for dinosaur origins has received fresh support in 2018 studies.
- He was also one of the first, in 1984, to present a new evolutionary tree of dinosaurs, based on rigorous principles, and he has worked on generating ever more complete family trees of dinosaurs ever since.
- His group were the first to discover the original colour and colour patterns of a dinosaur, in 2010, and this has opened a new field of research that has wide implications for understanding dinosaur behavior and sexual selection.
- In recent work, application of novel computational techniques have both set a standard for thoroughness in considering all uncertainties, but have also highlighted that dinosaurs were largely in decline through the last 40 million years of their existence, giving an important new perspective to understanding of their final catastrophic extinction.
Mike Benton was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014 for these, and other contributions to palaeobiology.