Palaeo-micromammal Research - Thalassa Matthews


Post-doctoral Researcher in the Cenozoic Collections

I received a PhD from the University of Cape Town in 2004. My thesis was entitled ‘The taphonomy and taxonomy of Mio-Pliocene and late Middle Pleistocene micromammals from the Cape west coast, South Africa’. I specialise in the study of micromammals such as mice, rats, mole rats, moles and shrews from archaeological and palaeontological sites. These micromammals provide environmental information which is used to reconstruct past environments (palaeoenvironments). During postdoctoral research I have worked on a number of west and south coast archaeological and palaeontological sites, although much of my recent work has focussed on the 5 million year old site of Langebaanweg, now the site of the West Coast Fossil Park. I have researched the small mammals from the site, and am currently working on the frogs (Ranids) as they can potentially provide very interesting information on the kind of water bodies, and other details, regarding the environments in which they lived. 


Image: Thalassa looking at fossil rat teeth from Langebaanweg


Recent Publications:

Roberts, D.L., Matthews, T., Herries, A., Boulter, C., Smith, R., Dondo, C., Mthenbi, P. and Haarhoff, P. 2011. Chronology of the Late Cenozoic Langebaanweg Palaeontological Site: West Coast of South Africa. Earth Science Reviews.106(3):191-310.

Matthews, T.,Rector, A., Jacobs, Z., Herries, A.I.R., Marean, C.W. 2011. Environmental implications of micromammals accumulated close to the MIS 6 to MIS 5 transition at Pinnacle Point Cave 9 (Mossel Bay, Western Cape Province, South Africa). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 302:213–229

Matthews, T.,and Stynder, D. 2011. An analysis of two Myosorex species (Soricidae) from the Early Pliocene site of Langebaanweg (West coast, South Africa) using geometric morphometrics and linear measurements. Geobios. 44:87-99.

Matthews, T.,and Stynder, D. 2011. An analysis of the Aethomys (Murinae) communityfrom Langebaanweg (Early Pliocene, South Africa) using geometric morphometrics. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 302:230-242.

Matthews, T.,Marean, C., and Nilssen, P. 2009. Micromammals from the Middle Stone Age (92 – 167

ka) at Cave PP13B, Pinnacle Point, south coast, South Africa. 44, 112-120. Palaeontologica Africana.

Thalassa Matthews

PhD 2004 (UCT)


Natural History Department

Iziko Museums of Cape Town

25 Queen Victoria Street

Cape Town


Tel: (+27)21 481 3877

Fax: (+27)21 481 3993