Florent Rivals

Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social


Graduated in Biology at the University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, Florent Rivals received his PhD in Prehistory from the University of Perpignan (France) in 2002. In 2004, with the support of a grant from the French ministry of Foreign Affairs, he completed a postdoctoral research at the American Museum of Natural History. In 2005, he was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the Humboldt Foundation at the University of Hamburg (Germany). He was appointed ICREA Junior Researcher (2007 to 2012) at the Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social (IPHES) in Tarragona and since October 2013, he is ICREA Research Professor at the same institution. He participates in several national and international projects, among them the "NEANDERLIFE 2” project funded by the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. F. Rivals is co-author of about 80 peer-reviewed articles in international journals.

Research interests

Florent Rivals has a primary research interest in evolutionary paleoecology and the ecological context of evolution. The analysis of mammalian fauna from Plio-Pleistocene sites provides the framework for studying the evolution of hominins. His research focuses on the impact of climate-driven environmental changes on hominins, and Neanderthals in particular. Examining mammal teeth, such as bison, deer, horse and mammoth, under a microscope and looking at the marks left by the food they ate (known as the last supper phenomenon), provides insight into the habitats they roamed just before they died. The changes in diet over thousands of years are used to reconstruct ancient environments, to track shifts related to climatic changes, and to understand hominin behavioral strategies in different ecological settings. Beyond Europe, his research is also recently focussing on the Near East (Levant) and Africa (Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Morocco).

Selected publications

- Rivals F, Uzunidis A, Sanz M & Daura J 2017, 'Faunal dietary response to the Heinrich Event 4 in southwestern Europe', Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, vol. 473, pp 123-130.

- Rivals F & Semprebon GM 2017, 'Latitude matters: an examination of behavioural plasticity in dietary traits amongst extant and Pleistocene Rangifer tarandus', Boreas, vol. 46, pp 254-263. 

- Uzunidis A, Rivals F & Brugal JP 2017, 'Relation between morphology and dietary traits in horse jugal upper teeth during the middle pleistocene in Southern France', Quaternaire, vol. 28, no. 3, pp 303-312.

- Álvarez-Lao DJ, Rivals F, Sánchez-Hernández C, Blasco R & Rosell J 2017, 'Ungulates from Teixoneres cave (Moiá, Barcelona, Spain): presence of cold-adapted elements in NE Iberia during the MIS 3', Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, vol. 466, pp 287-302.

- Rosell J, Blasco R, Rivals F, Chacón MG, Arilla M, Camarós E, Rufà A, Sánchez-Hernández C, Picin A, Andrés M, Blain HA, López-García JM, Iriarte E & Cebrià A 2017, 'A resilient landscape at Teixoneres Cave (MIS 3, Moià, Barcelona, Spain): the Neanderthals as disrupting agent', Quaternary International, vol. 435A, pp 195-210.

- Camarós E, Cueto M, Rosell J, Díez JC, Blasco R, Duhig C, Darlas A, Harvati K, Jordá J, Montes L, Villaverde V & Rivals F 2017, 'Hunted or scavenged Neanderthals? Taphonomic approach to hominin fossils with carnivore damage', International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, vol. 27, no. 4, pp 606-620. 

Selected research activities

- Principal investigator of the research grant “Snapshots of Neanderthal lifestyles 2” funded by the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad.

- Co-direction of the excavations at Teixoneres and Toll caves, Moià (Barcelona), Spain.

- Associate Editor of Quaternary International and Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

- Research stay at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2 months).

- Associate Professor at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Tarragona) in the "Erasmus Mundus Master in Quaternary and Prehistory".