Dr Tom Harvey

Lecturer in Geoscience, Course Director for Geology with Palaeontology

School/Department: Geography Geology & The Environment, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 3644



I am a geologist and evolutionary palaeobiologist with 20 years’ research experience. I completed my undergraduate degree in 2003 (BSc Geology and Biology University of Bristol) followed by an MSc in Palaeobiology (University of Bristol 2004) and a PhD on ‘Organic-walled microfossils from the early Cambrian of Canada’ (University of Cambridge 2009). I undertook postdoctoral research as a NERC PDRA at the universities of Leicester and Cambridge and as a Junior Research Fellow at Sidney Sussex College Cambridge. I moved to Leicester to take up my current position in 2013. I have since completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice in Higher Education (2016) and been made a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In my role I teach various topics in geology and palaeobiology, and I conduct research on early animal evolution and environmental change, with more than thirty-five research papers in journals including NaturePNAS, Science Advances, Nature Ecology & Evolution, various Royal Society titles, and Geology. I supervise MGeol, MPhil and PhD students and I am Course Director for Geology with Palaeontology. I have been a Council Member and Trustee of the Palaeontological Association.


I research the evolution of life and environments through deep geological time. I have a particular interest in the Proterozoic-Phanerozoic transition which is when animals first rose to dominance in marine ecosystems some half a billion years ago, fundamentally changing the way our planet works. My research extends across many scales, from resolving the microscopic anatomy, functional morphology, and phylogenetic position of individual fossil organisms, to establishing large-scale patterns in ecology, evolution, and environmental change. I have particular expertise in the origins and early evolution of arthropods and other ecdysozoans. I study small carbonaceous fossils (SCFs), small shelly fossils (SSFs), and exceptionally preserved macrofossils (e.g. Burgess Shale and Chengjiang biotas) to obtain a higher-resolution picture of large-scale patterns and processes, counteracting biases in the conventional fossil record. My work has been supported by grants and grants-in-kind from the Leverhulme Trust, NERC, NIGL, EIMF, and the SLS.


Harvey, T. H. P. 2023 Colonial green algae in the Cambrian plankton. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 290: 20231882. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2023.1882 

Williams, M., Komatsu, Toshifumi, Phong Duc Nguyen, Siveter, David J., McGairy, A., Bush, H., Goodall, R. H., Harvey, T. H. P., Stocker, C. P., Legrand, J., Yamada, Toshihiro, & Miller, C. G. 2023 Ostracods from the Upper Silurian Si Ka Formation, northern Vietnam, and their paleobiogeographical significance. Paleontological Research 27 (3), 261-276. doi: 10.2517/PR210032 

Shan, L., Harvey, T. H. P., Yan, K., Li, J., Zhang, Y., and Servais, T. 2022 Palynological recovery of small carbonaceous fossils (SCFs) indicates that the late Cambrian acritarch Goniomorpha Yin 1986 represents the teeth of a priapulid worm. Palynology. doi: 10.1080/01916122.2022.2157504

Harvey, T. H. P. and Butterfield, N. J. 2022 A new species of early Cambrian arthropod reconstructed from exceptionally preserved mandibles and associated small carbonaceous fossils (SCFs). Papers in Palaeontology e1458. doi: 10.1002/spp2.1458 

Stockey, C., Adams, N. F., Harvey, T. H. P., Donoghue, P. C. J., and Purnell, M. A. 2022 Dietary inference from dental topographic analysis of feeding tools in diverse animals. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 13, 1464–1474. doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.13832

Zhai, D.-Y., Williams, M., Siveter, David J., Siveter, Derek J., Harvey, T. H. P., Sansom, R. S., Mai, H.-J., Zhou, R.-Q. and Hou, X.-G. 2022 Chuandianella ovata: an early Cambrian stem euarthropod with feather-like appendages. Palaeontologia Electronica 25.1.a7. doi: 10.26879/1172.

O’Flynn, R. J., Williams, M., Yu, M.-X., Harvey, T. H. P., and Liu, Y. 2022 A new euarthropod with large frontal appendages from the early Cambrian Chengjiang biota. Palaeontologia Electronica 25(1):a6. doi: 10.26879/1167

McGairy, A., Komatsu. T., Williams, M., Harvey, T. H. P., Miller, G., Phong Duc Nguyen, Legrand. J., Yamada, T., Siveter, D.J., Bush, H. and Stocker, C. 2021 Ostracods had colonised estuaries by the late Silurian. Biology Letters 17, 20210403. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2021.0403

Wong Hearing, T. W., Pohl, A., Williams, M., Donnadieu, Y., Harvey, T. H. P., Scotese, C. R., Sepulchre, P., Franc, A., and Vandenbroucke, T. R. A. 2021 Quantitative comparison of geological data and model simulations constrains early Cambrian geography and climate. Nature Communications 12, 3868. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-24141-5

Legrand J., Yamada T., Komatsu T., Williams M., Harvey T., De Backer T., Vandenbroucke T. R. A., Nguyen P. D., Doan H. D., Nguyen H. B. 2021 Implications of an early land plant spore assemblage for the late Silurian age of the Si Ka Formation, northern Vietnam. Annales de Paléontologie 107 (3), 102486. doi: 10.1016/j.annpal.2021.102486

Wong Hearing, T. W., Williams, M., Rushton, A., Zalasiewicz, J., Komatsu, T., Stocker, C., Harvey, T. H. P., Niko, S., Hung Dinh Doan, Ha Thai Trinh, Hung Ba Nguyen, Minh Trung Nguyen. 2021 Late Ordovician (Katian) graptolites and shelly fauna from the Phu Ngu Formation, north-east Vietnam. Paleontological Research 25, 41–58. doi: 10.2517/2020PR011

Li, Y.-J., Williams, M., Harvey, T. H. P., Wei, F., Zhao, Y., Guo, J., Gabbott, S. E., Fletcher, T. M., Hou, X.-G., & Cong, P.-Y. 2020 Symbiotic fouling of Vetulicola, an early Cambrian nektonic animal. Communications Biology 3, 517 doi: 10.1038/s42003-020-01244-1

Slater, B. J., Harvey, T. H. P., Bekker, A., & Butterfield, N.J. 2020 Cochleatina: an enigmatic Ediacaran–Cambrian survivor among small carbonaceous fossils (SCFs). Palaeontology 63, 733–752. doi: 10.1111/pala.12484

Zhai, D.-Y., Williams, M., Siveter, David J., Harvey, T. H. P., Sansom, R. S., Gabbott, S. E., Siveter, Derek J., Liu, Y., Ma, X.-Y., Zhou, R.-Q., & Hou, X.-G. 2019 Variation in appendages in early Cambrian bradoriids reveals a wide range of body plans in stem-euarthropods. Communications Biology 2, 329. doi: 10.1038/s42003-019-0573-5

Hou, X.-G., Williams, M., Sansom, R., Siveter, D.J., Siveter, D.J., Gabbott, S., Harvey, T.H.P., Cong, P.-Y., & Liu, Y. 2018 A new xandarellid arthropod from the lower Cambrian Chengjiang biota, Yunnan Province, China. Geological Magazine doi: 10.1017/S0016756818000730

Cong, P.-Y., Harvey, T. H. P., Williams, M., Siveter, D. J., Siveter, D. J., Gabbott, S. E., Li, Y.-J., Wei, F., & Hou, X.-G. 2018 Naked chancelloriids from the lower Cambrian of China show evidence for sponge-type growth. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 20180296. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2018.0296

Hearing, T. W., Harvey, T. H. P., Williams, M., Leng, M. J., Lamb, A. L., Wilby, P. R., Gabbott, S. E., Pohl, A., & Donnadieu, Y. 2018 An early Cambrian greenhouse climate. Science Advances 4 (5), eaar5690. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aar5690 ; see also eLetter response to comment:

Guilbaud, R., Slater, B. J., Poulton, S. W., Harvey, T. H. P., Brocks, J. J., Nettersheim, B. J., & Butterfield, N. J. 2018 Oxygen minimum zones in the early Cambrian ocean. Geochemical Perspectives Letters 6, 33-38. doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1806

Slater, B. J., Harvey, T. H. P., & Butterfield, N.J. 2018 Small carbonaceous fossils (SCFs) from the Terreneuvian (Lower Cambrian) of Baltica. Palaeontology 61, 417-439. doi: 10.1111/pala.12350

Nowak, H., Harvey, T. H. P., Liu, Huaibao P., McKay, R. M., & Servais, T. 2018 Exceptionally preserved arthropodan microfossils from the Middle Ordovician Winneshiek Lagerstätte, Iowa, USA. Lethaia 51, 267–276. doi: 10.1111/let.12236

Harvey, T. H. P. & Butterfield, N. J. Exceptionally preserved Cambrian loriciferans and the early animal invasion of the meiobenthos. 2017 Nature Ecology & Evolution 1, 0022. doi: 10.1038/s41559-016-0022

Nowak, H., Harvey, T. H. P., Liu, Huaibao P., McKay, R. M., Zippi, P. A., Campbell, D., & Servais, T. 2017 Filamentous eukaryotic algae with a possible cladophoralean affinity from the Middle Ordovician Winneshiek Lagerstätte in Iowa, USA. Geobios 50 (4), 303–309. doi: 10.1016/j.geobios.2017.06.005

Ortega-Hernández, J., Abdelfattah, A., Hearing, T. W., Harvey, T. H. P., Edgecombe, G. D., Hafid, A., & El Hariri, K. 2017 A xandarellid artiopodan from Morocco – a middle Cambrian link between soft-bodied euarthropod communities in North Africa and South China. Scientific Reports 7, Article number 42616. doi: 10.1038/srep42616

Slater, B. J., Harvey, T. H. P., Guilbaud, R. & Butterfield, N. J. 2017 A cryptic record of Burgess Shale-type diversity from the early Cambrian of Baltica. Palaeontology 60, 117–140. doi: 10.1111/pala.12273

Smith, M. R., Harvey, T. H. P., & Butterfield, N. J. 2015 The macro- and microfossil record of the Cambrian priapulid Ottoia. Palaeontology 58, 705–721. doi: 10.1111/pala.12168

Hou, X., Williams, M., Siveter, D. J., Siveter, D. J., Gabbott, S., Holwell, D., & Harvey, T. H. P. 2014 A chancelloriid-like metazoan from the early Cambrian Chengjiang Lagerstätte, China. Scientific Reports 4, Article number 7340. doi: 10.1038/srep07340

Caron, J.-B., Smith, M. R., & Harvey, T. H. P. 2013 Beyond the Burgess Shale: Cambrian microfossils track the rise and fall of hallucigeniid lobopodians. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 280: 20131613. doi:10.1098/rspb.2013.1613

Harvey, T. H. P. & Pedder, B. E. 2013 Copepod mandible palynomorphs from the Nolichucky Shale (Cambrian, Tennessee): implications for the taphonomy and recovery of small carbonaceous fossils. PALAIOS 28, 278–284.

Harvey, T. H. P., Vélez, M. I., & Butterfield, N. J. 2012 Exceptionally preserved crustaceans from western Canada reveal a cryptic Cambrian radiation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 109, 1589–1594. doi:10.1073/pnas.1115244109

Butterfield, N. J. & Harvey, T. H. P. 2012 Small carbonaceous fossils (SCFs): a new measure of early Paleozoic paleobiology. Geology 40, 71–74.

Harvey, T. H. P., Ortega-Hernández, J., Lin, J.-P., Zhao, Y., & Butterfield, N. J. 2012 Burgess Shale-type microfossils from the middle Cambrian Kaili Formation, Guizhou Province, China. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 57, 423–436.

Harvey, T. H. P. & Butterfield, N. J. 2011 Macro- and microfossils of the Mount Cap Formation (Early and Middle Cambrian, Northwest Territories). Geoscience Canada 38, 165–173.

Harvey, T. H. P., Williams, M., Condon, D. J., Wilby, P. R., Siveter, D. J., Rushton, A. W. A., Leng, M. J., & Gabbott, S. E. 2011 A refined chronology for the Cambrian succession of southern Britain. Journal of the Geological Society, London 168, 705–716.

Dong, X.-P., Bengtson, S., Gostling, N. J., Cunningham, J. A., Harvey, T. H. P., Kouchinsky, A., Val'kov, A. K., Repetski, J. E., Stampanoni, M., Marone, F., & Donoghue, P. C. J. 2010 The anatomy, taphonomy, taxonomy and systematic affinity of Markuelia: Early Cambrian to Early Ordovician scalidophorans. Palaeontology 53, 1291–1314.

Harvey, T. H. P. 2010 Carbonaceous preservation of Cambrian hexactinellid sponge spicules. Biology Letters 6, 834–837.

Harvey, T. H. P., Dong, X. & Donoghue, P. C. J. 2010 Are palaeoscolecids ancestral ecdysozoans? Evolution and Development 12, 177–200.

Harvey, T. H. P. & Butterfield, N. J. 2008 Sophisticated particle-feeding in a large Early Cambrian crustacean. Nature 452, 868–871.

Invited contributions
Harvey, T. H. P., Vélez, M. I., & Butterfield, N. J. 2012 Small carbonaceous fossils from the Earlie and Deadwood formations (middle Cambrian to lower Ordovician) of southern Saskatchewan; in Summary of Investigations 2012, Volume 1, Saskatchewan Geological Survey, Sask. Ministry of the Economy, Misc. Rep. 2012-4.1, Paper A-1, 8 pp.

Harvey, T. H. P. 2011 “Burgess Shale biota”; “Cambrian explosion”; “Chengjiang biota”; “Ediacara biota”; & “Ediacaran period”; in Encyclopedia of Astrobiology. Gargaud, M., Amils, R., Cernicharo Quintanilla, J., Cleaves, H. J. II, Irvine, W. M., Pinti, D. L. and Viso, M. (eds). Springer-Verlag (Berlin, Heidelberg). ISBN 978-3642112713.

Popular science articles
Williams, M., Komatsu, T., Phong Nguyen Duc, Harvey, T. H. P. & Vandenbroucke, T. 2019 Geology ‘far from the madding crowd’, along the northern border of Vietnam. Geology Today 35, 217–220. doi: 10.1111/gto.12289

Williams, M., Perrier, V., Bennett, C., Hearing, T., Stocker, C., & Harvey, T. 2015 Ostracods: the ultimate survivors. Fossils Explained 66. Geology Today 31, 193–200. doi: 10.1111/gto.12108


My lab currently includes two PhD students, one MPhil student and four MGeol students. I am interested in developing PhD proposals on topics including: the early evolution of arthropods and other ecdysozoans; the use of small carbonaceous fossils and small shelly fossils for palaeobiology and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction; the early vertebrate record of conodonts including paraconodonts; interpreting the record of palynomorphs across the Ediacaran/Cambrian boundary; and exploring the interplay between evolutionary and environmental change at the dawn of the animal-dominated world.


GL1103 Palaeobiology and the Stratigraphic Record (core module)
GL2100 Geological Field Methods (Spain/Peak District; core module)
GL3105 Earth Science in Education
GL4108 Evolutionary Palaeobiology (core module)
GL4100 Hot Topics (core module)
Personal tutor
Mapping tutor
Dissertation supervisor
MGeol research project supervisor

Press and media

I am an expert in the early evolution of animal life and exceptionally preserved fossils.
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