Florent Rivals

Florent Rivals

Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social


I graduated in Biology at the University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, and received my PhD in Prehistory from the University of Perpignan in 2002. In 2004, I completed a postdoc at the American Museum of Natural History and in 2005, I was awarded a fellowship from the Humboldt Foundation at the Universität Hamburg (Germany). I was appointed ICREA Junior Researcher (2007 to 2012) at the Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social and since 2013, I am ICREA Research Professor at the same institution. I am principal investigador of a coordinated research project on Neanderthal behaviour and paleoecology funded by the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. I also participate in various national and international projects. I supervised four PhD theses and four Master thesis. I am author or co-author of 124 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including Quaternary Science Reviews and Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

Research interests

My primary research interest is 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. My 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, my research is also focussing on the Near East (Israel), Africa (Tanzania, Ethiopia and Morocco), and South America (Chile, Argentina, Brasil).

Selected publications

- Rivals F, Drucker DG, Weber MJ, Audouze F & Enloe JG 2020, 'Dietary traits and habitats of the reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) during the Late Glacial of Northern Europe', Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, vol. 12, no. 5, 98.

- Rivals F, Prilepskaya NE, Belyaev RI & Pervushov EM 2020, 'Dramatic change in the diet of a late Pleistocene Elasmotherium population during its last days of life: Implications for its catastrophic mortality in the Saratov region of Russia', Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, vol. 556, 109898.

- Rivals F, Rabinovich R, Khalaily H, Valla F & Bridault A 2020, 'Seasonality of the Final Natufian occupation at Eynan/Ain Mallaha (Israel): an approach combining dental ageing, mesowear and microwear', Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, vol. 12, no. 10, 232.

- Rivals F & Tornero C 2020, 'High resolution analyses of large mammals dental remains: Broadening horizons', Quaternary International, vol. 557, pp 1-2.

Selected research activities

- Principal investigator and coordinator of the project “Neanderthal behaviour and paleoecology in Mediterranean ecosystems” funded by the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (2020-2023).

- Member of the management committee and STSM coordinator in the COST Action "Integrating Neandertal Legacy: From Past to Present".

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

- Associate editor for Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

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