Florent Rivals

Florent Rivals

Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social


After my graduate degree in Biology, I obtained 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 (COST Action, Palarq, ERC). I am co-director of the excavations of the Toll and Teixoneres caves. I have supervised six PhD dissertations and five Master thesis. To date, I have published more than 140 papers in peer-reviewed journals (first author in 50 of them).

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

- Romagnoli F, Rivals F, Benazzi S (Eds.) 2022, Updating Neanderthals. Understanding behavioural complexity in the Late Middle Palaeolithic. Academic Press, Cambridge.

- Rivals F, Bocherens H, Camarós E, Rosell J 2022, 'Diet and ecological interactions in the Middle and Late Pleistocene', in Romagnoli F, Rivals F, Benazzi S (Eds.), Updating Neanderthals. Towards an understanding of behavioural complexity in the Late Middle Palaeolithic, Academic Press, Cambridge, pp. 39–54.

- Livraghi A, Rivals F, Rendu W & Peresani M 2022, 'Neanderthals' hunting seasonality inferred from combined cementochronology, mesowear, and microwear analysis: case studies from the Alpine foreland in Italy', Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, vol. 14, 51.

- Rivals F, Baryshnikov GF, Prilepskaya NE & Belyaev RI 2022, 'Diet and ecological niches of the Late Pleistocene hyenas Crocuta spelaea and C. ultima ussurica based on a study of tooth microwear', Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, vol. 601, 111125.

- Uzunidis A, Rufà A, Blasco R, Rosell J, Brugal JP, Texier PJ & Rivals F 2022, 'Speciated mechanism in Quaternary cervids (Cervus and Capreolus) on both sides of the Pyrenees: a multidisciplinary approach', Scientific Reports, vol. 12, 20200. 

Selected research activities

- PI of the project “Neanderthal behaviour and paleoecology in Mediterranean ecosystems” funded by the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación.

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

- Co-director of the field work at Toll and Teixoneres caves, Moià (Barcelona), Spain.

- Associate editor for Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution and Environmental Archaeology.

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