‘eighty years of promoting biodiversity conservation through taxonomic research, scientific training and international networks’

Harrison Institute, Centre for Biodiversity Research

Hordle Cliff on the Hampshire coastline.

David Harrison on Headon Hill, Isle of Wight.


A systematic study of the Priabonian (Late Eocene) sites of Hordle in Hampshire and Headon Hill on the Isle of Wight


Host country:
UK


Project objective: To research and make a comprehensive collection of the small mammals of the Priabonian (approx 37 million years before present [m.y.b.p]) sites of Hordle Cliff (near Milford-on-Sea) in Hampshire and Headon Hill (Totland Bay) on the Isle of Wight. Highlights included the first record of a small artiodactyl Acotherulum pumilum for Britain and a description of a new genus and species of Omomyid primate.  Specimens of the world’s oldest mole (Eotalpa anglica) were also collected from Hordle Cliff. In addition, new material of reptiles and amphibians were collected and subsequently described by Professor Holman in the USA.

The fauna collected from Hordle Cliff, the largest collection so far compiled, included: Proteutheria – Opsiclaenodon major

Lipotyphla – Eotalpa anglica, Gesneropithex grisollensis, Saturninia grisollensis, Saturninia aff. tobieni, Saturnia gracilis, and Scraeva woodi

Primates – Leptadapis magnus, Microchoerus erinaceus, Protoadapis ulmensis, and Pseudoloris parvalus

Rodentia – Glamys priscus, Gliravus daamsi, Isoptyphus cf. euzetensis, Paradelomys quercyi vectisensis, Sciuroides ehrensteinensis, Suevosciurus bosmae, Thalerimys fordi, and Treposciurus mutabilis

Apatotheria – Heterohyus nanus

Artiodactyla – Acotherulum pumilum, Dichodon cervinus, Dichodon cuspidatus, Pseudamphimeryx hantonensis, Tapirulus cf. perrierensis, and Xiphodon gracilis

Marsupialia – Amphiperatherium sp. A and sp. B


Harrison Institute contact: Dr David Harrison – hzm@btinternet.com


Principal Collaborators:
Dr Jerry Hooker of the Natural History Museum, London.


Principal Funder: Harrison Institute


Project dates: October, 1987-August, 2001


Publication from the project:

On Mammals
Harrison, D. L., P. J. J. Bates and N. M. Thomas. 1995. The occurrence of Acotherulum pumilum (Stehlin, 1908), (Mammalia, Artiodactyla, Cebochoeridae) in the Headonian (Upper Eocene) of England. Tertiary Research, 15(4): 139-143.

Hooker J. J. and D. L. Harrison. 2008. A new clade of Omomyid primates from the European Paleogene. Journal of vertebrate Palaeontology28 (3): 826-840.

Norris, C. A. and D. L. Harrison. 1998. Mammalian periotic bones from the Eocene deposits at Hordle, Hampshire. Acta zoologica cracoviensia41(1): 69-77.

Norris, C. A. and D. L. Harrison. 1998. A possible Omomyid (Primates: Omomyidae) periotic bone from the Eocene deposits at Hordle, Hampshire. Acta zoologica cracoviensia, 41(1): 61-68.

On Amphibians and Reptiles

Holman, J. A. and D. L. Harrison. 1998. A new genus of small boid snake from the Upper Eocene of Hordle Cliff, Hampshire, England. Acta zoologica cracoviensia, 41(1): 29-33.

Holman, J. A. and D. L. Harrison. 1998. A new genus of snake (Serpentes: Boidae) from the upper Eocene of Hordle Cliff, Hampshire, England. Acta zoologica cracoviensia,  41(1): 23-27.

Holman, J. A. and D. L. Harrison. 1999. Rana (Amphibia: Ranidae) from the Upper Eocene (MP17a) Hordle Cliff locality, Hampshire, England. Palaeovertebrata,Montpellier 28(1): 47-51.

Holman, J. A. and D. L. Harrison. 2002. A new Thaumastosaurus (Anura: Familia incertae sedis) from the Late Eocene of England, with remarks on the taxonomic and zoogeographic relationships of the genus. Journal of Herpetology,36(4): 621-626.

Holman, J. A. and D. L. Harrison. 2003. A new helmeted frog of the genus Thaumastosaurus from the Eocene of England. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica,48(1): 157–160.

Holman, J. A., D. L. Harrison, and D. J. Ward. 2006.  Late Eocene snakes from the Headon Hill Formation, southern England. Cainozoic Research, 5 (1-2): 51-62.