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, he completed a postdoctoral research at the American Museum of Natural History and in 2005, he was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the Humboldt Foundation at the Universität 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, and he is principal investigador of the "NEANDERLIFE 2” project funded by the Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades. F. Rivals is co-author of about 90 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), Africa (Tanzania and Morocco), and South America (Chile, Argentina, Brasil).

Selected publications

- Romagnoli F, Nishiaki Y, Rivals F & Vaquero M 2018, 'Time uncertainty, site formation processes, and human behaviours: New insights on old issues in High-Resolution Archaeology', Quaternary International, vol. 474B, pp 99-102.

- Rivals F & Alvarez-Lao DJ 2018, 'Ungulate dietary traits and plasticity in zones of ecological transition inferred from late Pleistocene assemblages at Jou Puerta and Rexidora in the Cantabrian Region of northern Spain', Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, vol. 499, pp 123-130.

- Rivals F, Uno KT, Bibi F, Pante MC, Njau J & de la Torre I 2018, 'Dietary traits of the ungulates from the HWK EE site at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania): Diachronic changes and seasonality', Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 120, pp 203-214.

- Gonzalez-Guarda E, Petermann-Pichincura A, Tornero C, Domingo L, Agustí J, Pino M, Abarzua AM, Capriles JM, Villavicencio NA, Labarca R, Tolorza V, Sevilla P & Rivals F 2018, 'Multiproxy evidence for leaf-browsing and closed habitats in extinct proboscideans (Mammalia, Proboscidea) from Central Chile', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 115, no. 37, pp 9258-9263.

- Rivals F & Ziegler R 2018, 'High-resolution paleoenvironmental context for human occupations during the Middle Pleistocene in Europe (MIS 11, Germany)', Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 188, pp 136-142.

Selected research activities

- Principal investigator of the research grant “Snapshots of Neanderthal lifestyles 2” funded by the Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades.

- Co-direction of the excavations at Teixoneres Cave, Moià (Barcelona), Spain.

- Associate editor for Quaternary International (until July 2018) and Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

- Research stay at the National Natural History Collections of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1 month in 2018).

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