GCR block - Tertiary Palaeobotany (TER-PALBOT)

Tertiary Palaeobotany

Block Description

UK map showing distribution of GCR sites of GCR block TER-PALBOT
Distribution of GCR sites of GCR block Tertiary Palaeobotany

In contrast to the manner in which most invertebrate fossils are represented in the GCR, fossils of vertebrates, arthropods (except trilobites) and terrestrial plants do have their own dedicated GCR Blocks, because of the relative rarity of the fossil material. The GCR sites selected for the Tertiary Palaeobotany GCR Block represent the British fossil record of vascular land plants during the Tertiary sub-Era (which spanned from 65 to 2 million years ago (Ma), which was preceded by the Mesozoic Era). This was a time of further evolution and diversification of plants, with the vegetation becoming dominated by the flowering plants. At the end of the Cretaceous Period (the last Period of the Mesozoic era) there was a mass extinction event, but this did not have a significant or long term effect on plant life. The end of the Tertiary sub-Era is marked by the onset of the ‘Great Ice Age’ (Quaternary Period). Quaternary floral change in the British fossil record is recorded in Quaternary GCR sites (predominantly represented in the pollen records).

Earlier fossil plants are afforded their own GCR Blocks, ‘Palaeozoic Palaeobotany’ and ‘Mesozoic Palaeobotany’. See PAZ-PALBOT and MES-PALBOT. See also Quaternary GCR Blocks.

Palaeontological characteristics

From the earliest inter-tidal vegetation of the Silurian Period (425 million years ago), plants progressively became established on land, and eventually developed into the lush tropical wetland forests of the Late Carboniferous Period (300 million years ago)

The end of the Palaeozoic Era (c. 250 million years ago) was a time of major change in land vegetation when traumatic environmental events caused rapid extinction of many plant groups. However, a few groups survived through into the Mesozoic Era and from these the gradual development of modern vegetation can be traced through the fossil record. In late Mesozoic times, the first evidence of flowering plants can be found. Although the end-Cretaceous mass extinction had significant effects on faunas, it did not significantly affect plant life, since spores and seeds were able to germinate when more favourable conditions occurred after the extcintion event. Of the plant groups that did die out out this point (e.g. the bennettites) most were suffereing a marked decline during the preceding Cretaceous Period, probably as a result fo competition from flowering plants (angiosperms). By the Tertiary sub-Era, much of the vegetation was dominated by flowering plants like those of the present day.

Britain has a particularly fine palaeobotancial record for early Tertiary deposits (e.g. the London Clay and there are many sites internationally important for floras of these ages.


The fossil plant material has been useful in palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions as an indicator of the geological past. The palaeogeography of each relevant geological period since the earliest terrestrial vegetation of the Tertiary sub-Era can be found elsewhere on the pages of this website. See PGN; NEO

GCR site selection

Owing to the rarity of fossil plant material, this GCR Block represents something of a special case with regard to including all of the sites yielding, or that have yielded, significant types and quantities of scientifically important material that help elucidate the evolution of the main plant groups.

The sites can be allocated to 5 GCR networks based on distinct plant assemblages associated with different time intervals and/or palaeoenvironmental settings as follows:

• British Triassic palaeobotany

• Jurassic palaeobotany of Yorkshire

• Jurassic palaeobotany of southern England

• Jurassic palaeobotany of Scotland

• British Cretaceous palaeobotany.

Volume Introduction

Tertiary Palaeobotany

Site List

Your selection found 27 GCR sites. Sites are sorted alphabetically by country, local authority and then by site name -
CodeNameCountryLocal AuthorityGrid RefGCR Site Account
719Cold AshEnglandBerkshireSU500714Not available
766Pincent`s KilnEnglandBerkshireSU651720Not available
1577LakeEnglandBournemouth and PooleSY978908Not available
1576ArneEnglandDorset CCSY970892Not available
1587BartonEnglandDorset CCSZ207931Not available
1588HighcliffeEnglandDorset CCSZ195927Not available
779HarwichEnglandEssex CCTM263320Not available
760Walton-on-the-NazeEnglandEssex CCTM267238Not available
1589Hordle - Beacon CliffsEnglandHampshire CCSZ254925Not available
1586Paddy`s GapEnglandHampshire CCSZ282915Not available
1596Bouldnor CliffEnglandIsle of WightSZ375901Not available
1578Chapel CornerEnglandIsle of WightSZ553936Not available
1591Colwell BayEnglandIsle of WightSZ330884Not available
1594Hamstead LedgeEnglandIsle of WightSZ402918Not available
1593Headon HillEnglandIsle of WightSZ305857Not available
1592Thorness BayEnglandIsle of WightSZ436926Not available
1590TotlandEnglandIsle of WightSZ323885Not available
1595Whitecliff BayEnglandIsle of WightSZ638858Not available
763Herne BayEnglandKent CCTR185685Not available
778SheppeyEnglandKent CCTQ955738Not available
762HarefieldEnglandOuter London - West and North WestTQ049898Not available
1876Bees NestEnglandSouth and West DerbyshireSK241546Not available
761WrabnessEnglandSuffolkTM172323Not available
764Bognor RegisEnglandWest SussexSZ889970Not available
1585BrackleshamEnglandWest SussexSZ775975Not available
765FelphamEnglandWest SussexSZ949993Not available
932ArdtunScotlandLochaber, Skye and Lochalsh and Argyll and the IslandsNM381248Not available
Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access. Search Again