Juan Luis Arsuaga

American Museum of Natural History, New York City, New York, United States

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Publications (241)790.31 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The archaeological karstic infill site of Galería Complex, located within the Atapuerca system (Spain), has produced a large faunal and archaeological record (Homo sp. aff. heidelbergensis fossils and Mode II lithic artefacts) belonging to the Middle Pleistocene. Extended-range luminescence dating techniques, namely post-infrared infrared stimulated luminescence (pIR-IR) dating of K-feldspars and thermally transferred optically stimulated luminescence (TT-OSL) dating of individual quartz grains, were applied to fossil-bearing sediments at Galería. The luminescence dating results are in good agreement with published chronologies derived using alternative radiometric dating methods (i.e., ESR and U-series dating of bracketing speleothems and combined ESR/U-series dating of herbivore teeth), as well as biochronology and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions inferred from proxy records (e.g., pollen data). For the majority of samples dated, however, the new luminescence ages are significantly (~50%) younger than previously published polymineral thermoluminescence (TL) chronologies, suggesting that the latter may have overestimated the true burial age of the Galería deposits. The luminescence ages obtained indicate that the top of the basal sterile sands (GIb) at Galería have an age of up to ~370 thousand years (ka), while the lowermost sub-unit containing Mode II Acheulean lithics (base of unit GIIa) was deposited during MIS 9 (mean age = 313 ± 14 ka; n = 4). The overlying units GIIb-GIV, which contain the richest archaeopalaeontological remains, were deposited during late MIS 8 or early MIS 7 (~240 ka). Galería Complex may be correlative with other Middle Pleistocene sites from Atapuerca, such as Gran Dolina level TD10 and unit TE19 from Sima del Elefante, but the lowermost archaeological horizons are ~100 ka younger than the hominin-bearing clay breccias at the Sima de los Huesos site. Our results suggest that both pIR-IR and single-grain TT-OSL dating are suitable for resolving Middle Pleistocene chronologies for the Sierra de Atapuerca karstic infill sequences.
    PLoS ONE 10/2014; · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Numerous studies have attempted to identify the presence of uniquely derived (autoapomorphic) Neandertal features. Here, we deal with the medial pterygoid tubercle (MTP), which is usually present on the internal face of the ascending ramus of Neandertal specimens. Our study stems from the identification of a hypertrophied tubercle in ATD6-96, an Early Pleistocene mandible recovered from the TD6 level of the Atapuerca-Gran Dolina site and attributed to Homo antecessor. Our review of the literature and study of numerous original fossil specimens and high quality replicas confirm that the MTP occurs at a high frequency in Neandertals (ca. 89%) and is also present in over half (ca. 55%) of the Middle Pleistocene Sima de los Huesos (SH) hominins. In contrast, it is generally absent or minimally developed in other extinct hominins, but can be found in variable frequencies (<ca. 25%) in Pleistocene and recent H. sapiens samples. The presence of this feature in ATD6-96 joins other traits shared by H. antecessor, the SH hominins and Neandertals. Since the TD6 hominins have been attributed either to MIS 21 or to MIS 25, it seems that a suite of assumed derived Neandertal features appeared in the Early Pleistocene, and they should be interpreted as synapomorphies shared among different taxa. We suggest that H. antecessor, the SH hominins and Neandertals shared a common ancestor in which these features appeared during the Early Pleistocene. The presence of the MTP in taxa other than H. neanderthalensis precludes this feature from being a Neandertal autapomorphy. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 10/2014; · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, a new Early Pleistocene proximal hand phalanx (ATE9-2) from the Sima del Elefante cave site (TE – Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain), ascribed to Homo sp., is presented and comparatively described in the context of the evolution of the genus Homo. The ATE9-2 specimen is especially important because of the paucity of hand bones in the human fossil record during the Early Pleistocene. The morphological and metrical analyses of the phalanx ATE9-2 indicate that there are no essential differences between it and comparator fossil specimens for the genus Homo after 1.3 Ma (millions of years ago). Similar to Sima de los Huesos and Neandertal specimens, ATE9-2 is a robust proximal hand phalanx, probably reflecting greater overall body robusticity in these populations or a higher gracility in modern humans. The age of level TE9 from Sima del Elefante and morphological and metrical studies of ATE9-2 suggest that the morphology of the proximal hand phalanges and, thus, the morphology of the hand could have remained stable over the last 1.2–1.3 Ma. Taking into account the evidence recently provided by a metacarpal from Kaitio (Kenya) from around 1.42 Ma, we argue that modern hand morphology is present in the genus Homo subsequent to Homo habilis.
    Journal of Human Evolution 09/2014; · 4.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Appropiate identification of goat remains at an archaeological site provides important information about the structure and behaviour (subsistence strategies) of ancient human societies. Traditionally, Iberian wild goats (Capra pyrenaica) and domestic goats (Capra hircus) have been differentiated using biometric criteria whereas morphological identification of these species has remained poorly studied. We tested the biometric and morphological criteria for goat species identification in a set of 35 anatomical elements. From these, 20 bones belonged to modern domestic goats obtained from comparative anatomical collections of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology of the University of Haifa, the National Natural History Collections of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Department of Archaeology of the University of Sheffield. The remaining 15 bones correspond to fossil material of wild and domestic goat from Paleolithic and Neolithic levels from the site of Chaves in Huesca, Spain. We used mitochondrial DNA markers to genetically identify the fossil remains through ancient DNA analysis in order to verify the criteria used to differentiate wild from domestic goats with non-genetic analysis. Thus, the genetic results of the ancient material were furthered contrasted to those of modern goats obtained with biometric and morphological analyses. The identification of modern goats using morphological and biometrical criteria show highly similar results. In the fossil data set we observed a positive correlation between the genetic species assignation and the morphological and biometrical identification. We observed little discrepancy between the morphological criteria used in this study for the identification of wild and domestic goats and the DNA results. However, the reliability of the identification criteria for some anatomical elements was not clear, particularly for mandibles and metacarpals. This is a pilot study and therefore we are still working in increasing our sample size in terms of individuals but also in terms of the anatomical elements to be analysed.
    UISPP; 09/2014
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this work is to determine the nature of products obtained through the exploitation of domestic sheep and goat that were recovered from the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age levels of the Portalón site (Atapuerca Hill, Burgos, Spain). The data will be evaluated within the context of the changes in domestic stock exploitation observed between Neolithic and Bronze Age sites from Iberian Peninsula. Comparison of the Chalcolithic material from Portalón with Early Neolithic assemblages from other sites suggests that there was a substantial change between the two periods. The Early Neolithic ovicaprine exploitation pattern was focused heavily upon primary products. In the Chalcolithic level of Portalón, ovicaprine exploitation was largely a mixed strategy, but one which began to emphasize more secondary products (milk and dairy products). This exploitation pattern is similar to that found for ovicaprine assemblages from other Middle Neolithic to Chalcolithic sites in the Peninsula. The results from the Bronze Age Portalón also indicated a mixed ovicaprine exploitation strategy, which focused mostly on primary (61.9%) and less on secondary products (38.1%). This pattern is more similar to the Bronze Age sites from the east and north of Spain (with some exceptions), and contrary to Argaric (Bronze Age) culture levels of the sites in the southeast of the Peninsula. It is more similar to the pattern from Early Neolithic sites, in which ovicaprine livestock is focused on meat production.
    Animal Secondary products: domestic animal exploitation in Prehistoric Europe, the Near East and the Far East., Edited by Greenfield H, 09/2014: chapter IIIC; Oxbow books., ISBN: 9781782974017
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    ABSTRACT: The horse has played an important role in the prehistoric societies along the time. During the Paleolithic the horse was frequently hunted and consumed by man. In the Iberian Peninsula, the horse was a common element at the end of the Late Pleistocene, after which there was a long period during the Early Holocene when sites containing horse remains were very rare. It was not until the Chalcolithic or Bell Beaker culture when more equine remains were found in certain regions.The horse was exploited for various reasons in the Iberian Peninsula during the Bronze Age. In some cases, horses were used for their meat. They were also used as pack or draft animals, and only after they fulfilled this purpose, were eventually consumed. Another possible purpose of horse exploitation could be to obtain milk. Nonetheless,no evidence has been found at any site in Iberia that indicates mare’s milk consumption. Lastly, during the Bronze Age, horses could have been considered goods that represented prestige. The possession and consumption of horses could have served to distinguish between different social classes living in settlements in that period. This is difficult to verify with the zooarchaeological record. In this study, an exceptional consumption of horse remains in Early Bronze Age is documented. These remains were discovered during the sixth excavation campaign of the El Portalón site directed by J. M. Apellániz in 1979.The material consists of 103 bones and teeth, belonging to a minimum number of six individuals of Equus sp., recovered in a thin stratigraphic interval (around 70 centimeters) and a 2 m2 of area (called Horse stratigraphic unit: HSU). It is dated c. 2000 yr cal B.C. The mortality profile (three of the six individuals were slaughtered before reaching four years of age), butchery marks (on 27.18% of the bone remains), thermal alteration and the percussion marks suggest horse meat as an important resource for the inhabitants from the Bronze Age of El Portalón. This is unusual among other Iberian sites where ovicaprines, bovids and suids provide the majority of the meat. The high percentage of equid remains identified in the HSU (43% of total NISP) makes this place one of few Holocene Iberian sites (with Cerro de La Encinaand the phase III of Pic del Corbs) where the horse is the most abundant species.The mentioned evidences and the low representation of the equid remains in the other levels of the whole site’s stratigraphic sequence bring forward the exceptional character of equid consumption represented in this site, and, together with other contextual evidences, suggest that this accumulation of horse remains could be the result of a feast.
    UISPP; 09/2014
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    ABSTRACT: The main goal of this work is to introduce the archaeological characteristics of a collective burial excavated in the level 7/8 from “El Portalón de Cueva Mayor” site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos). The radiocarbon dating for this funerary level, obtained from seed, faunal and human remains, indicates dates of4350 ± 30 BP. This, together with the typology of cultural material places this burial in the pre-Bell Beaker pottery Chalcolithic period of the Spanish North Plateau (between 4600 and 3950 BP). The level 7/8 represents a tumular structure in which several burials were performed. Over 93 human remains have been recovered from this level, belonging to a minimum number of 11 individuals, four adults and seven subadults. Because these burials were disturbed by later chalcolitic dweller, in most cases, it is not possible to establish a clear association among the human remains and the cultural materials (grave godos) found in this level. Therefore the funerary ritual related to these human remains is hard to describe. Fortunately, during 2012 field season, an intact burial with a complete human subadult skeleton was recovered from this level. The burial was clearly associated to both, cultural and faunal remains. Our study show that the level 7/8 from El Portalón fits well with the pattern of the Chalcolithic funerary world that is defined by the collective character of the burials and by the no spatial coincidence of them and habitat areas. This extraordinary discovery provides an important source of knowledge regardfg the funerary behaviour during this prehistoric period in the Spanish North Plateau.
    UISPP; 09/2014
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    ABSTRACT: The existence of calcanei in the fossil record prior to modern humans and Neandertals is very scarce. This skeletal element is fundamental to understanding the evolution of the morphology of the foot in human evolution. Here we present and metrically and comparatively describe 29 calcaneus remains from the Middle Pleistocene site of Sima de los Huesos (SH) (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain). These calcanei belong to 15 individuals (nine adults, two adolescents and four immature individuals). The metric and morphological differences in the calcanei among Middle and Late Pleistocene hominins tend to be subtle. However, the calcanei from SH are broad and robust with large articular surfaces and most significantly, exhibit a very projected sustentaculum tali. A biomechanical and phylogenetic interpretation is proffered to explain the observed morphology of these calcanei. It has been possible to propose tentative sex assignments for the SH calcanei based on size, using methods similar to those used to establish sex from the talus bones from SH. The estimation of stature based on the calcaneus provides a mean of 175.3 cm for males and 160.6 for females, which is similar to that obtained using other skeletal parts from the site. In sum, the SH calcanei are robust with a proportionally long tubercle and a projected sustentaculum tali, which are traits shared by Neandertals.
    Journal of Human Evolution 06/2014; 76:63-76. · 4.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Seventeen Middle Pleistocene crania from the Sima de los Huesos site (Atapuerca, Spain) are analyzed, including seven new specimens. This sample makes it possible to thoroughly characterize a Middle Pleistocene hominin paleodeme and to address hypotheses about the origin and evolution of the Neandertals. Using a variety of techniques, the hominin-bearing layer could be reassigned to a period around 430,000 years ago. The sample shows a consistent morphological pattern with derived Neandertal features present in the face and anterior vault, many of which are related to the masticatory apparatus. This suggests that facial modification was the first step in the evolution of the Neandertal lineage, pointing to a mosaic pattern of evolution, with different anatomical and functional modules evolving at different rates.
    Science 06/2014; 344:1358. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Seventeen Middle Pleistocene crania from the Sima de los Huesos site (Atapuerca, Spain) are analyzed, including seven new specimens. This sample makes it possible to thoroughly characterize a Middle Pleistocene hominin paleodeme and to address hypotheses about the origin and evolution of the Neandertals. Using a variety of techniques, the hominin-bearing layer could be reassigned to a period around 430,000 years ago. The sample shows a consistent morphological pattern with derived Neandertal features present in the face and anterior vault, many of which are related to the masticatory apparatus. This suggests that facial modification was the first step in the evolution of the Neandertal lineage, pointing to a mosaic pattern of evolution, with different anatomical and functional modules evolving at different rates.
    Science 06/2014; 344(6190):1358-1363. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pleistocene level TD6-2 of the Gran Dolina site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain) is the result of anthropogenic accumulation. Hominin groups occupied the cave as a home base, where they brought in, butchered and consumed the carcasses of ungulates and other hominins. In this paper, we reassess the role of carnivores in the formation and/or modification of the assemblage. We employed different methods to explore the scenario in which the TD6-2 assemblage was formed: (1) identifying the actor responsible for tooth marks; (2) determining the frequency of carnivore tooth marks and their distribution; (3) identifying the co-occurrence of modifications (butchering marks and carnivore tooth marks); (4) calculating the percentage of change and the epiphysis to shaft ratio. Carnivore tooth marks are scarce, as is the co-occurrence of hominin and carnivore modifications. However, not all tooth marks have been attributed to a particular agent due to the high equifinality between human and carnivore tooth marks. For these reasons, the frequency of tooth marks and the co-occurrence of modifications have been of little help in interpreting the role of carnivores. Axial skeletal remains and the epiphyses of the long bones are in large part missing. The percentage of change and the epiphysis to shaft ratio suggest moderate carnivore ravaging activity. Our data indicate that the role of carnivores in TD6-2 seems to have had an impact on the original assemblage after hominins had extracted a large amount of nutrients from the carcasses. Cannibalized hominin remains showed no carnivore tooth marks and have a greater presence of low survival bones compared to ungulate remains. These findings point to a different taphonomic history suggesting that TD6-2 represents a succession of settlements having different characteristics.
    05/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Un crâne complet d’Ursus deningeri de Petralona (Chalkidiki, Grèce) recouvert d’une croûte épaisse de carbonate, a été libéré « virtuellement » au moyen de la tomographie et de la reconstruction d’image en 3D. Il a été comparé avec un autre spécimen du Pléistocène Moyen provenant du gisement de la Sima de los Huesos (Sierra de Atapuerca, Espagne). La tomographie par rayons X a permis d’identifier des caractères précédemment non reconnus et phylogénétiquement remarquables. L’analyse de ces caractères et d’une série additionnelle de caractères classiquement définis démontrent la quasi-identité de ces échantillons ; confirmant la précocité de la branche spéloïde « (ours des cavernes) ». Les âges obtenus par divers analyses de luminiscence en le dépôt de SH fournissent une estimation de ĺâge minimum combinée de 427 ± 12 ka pour les fossiles sous-jacents. En se basant sur la série de caractéristiques morphologiques primitives et dérivées de ces deux crânes, nous proposons ici un âge similaire pour les U. deningeri de Petralona et Sima de los Huesos.
    Annales de Paléontologie 03/2014; · 0.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The application of microtomography (mCT) to dental morphological studies has unveiled a new source of palaeobiological information, particularly in the analysis of the internal structures of teeth. In this study, we assess the expression of talonid crests at the enamel and dentine surfaces in lower permanent and second deciduous molars (M2 and dm2) of H. sapiens, H. neanderthalensis and Atapuerca-Sima de los Huesos (SH) hominins. In modern humans, talonid crests are described exclusively in the deciduous teeth (Korenhof, 1982) and interpreted as a primitive mammalian remnant of the talonid attachment to the trigonid. Here we report for the first time the expression of talonid crests of deciduous and permanent molars in H. sapiens, H. neanderthalensis and Middle Pleistocene hominins. We discuss possible evolutionary interpretations and suggest the importance of recording this feature in future studies.
    Comptes Rendus Palevol 02/2014; On line. · 1.01 Impact Factor
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    Comptes Rendus Palevol 02/2014; on line. · 1.01 Impact Factor
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    Nohemi Sala, Juan Luis Arsuaga, Gary Haynes
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    ABSTRACT: This work presents data obtained from experiments conducted on wild and captive wolves. Actualism is a very useful tool for taphonomic studies, as it allows us to understand the behavior of fauna in the past. However, not many past experimental studies have dealt with wolves as taphonomic agents. The results of the study show that wolves modify animal carcasses in advanced stages that include fracturing the bones in order to consume the marrow. By comparing captive and wild wolves, we observe that captive wolves often modify ungulate carcasses to a greater degree than do wild wolves. Moreover, factors such as the size of the ungulate and the period of availability of the carcass influence the type and degree of bone alteration. Tooth mark dimensions also allow us to compare wolves with other large carnivores and reveal that wolves differ significantly from large felids and ursids, and they have more in common with hyenids.
    Quaternary International 01/2014; · 2.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Cueva del Camino site (Pinilla del Valle, Madrid, Spain) is located in the upper valley of the Lozoya River in the Sierra de Guadarrama, a mountain range extending NE-SW within the Central Range System. Due to its location within a mountain range on the central Iberian Peninsula at an altitude of 1114 m a.s.l. and the numerical dating of its sediments, the palaeontological site of Cueva del Camino has proved a highly relevant location for studying the ecological changes linked to the climatic fluctuations at the end of Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 and the beginning of MIS 4. Environmental reconstructions suggest a rather open, patchy landscape throughout the succession, with abundant evidence of dry meadows, scrublands and rocky habitats. The climate can be considered as generally warm, reaching mean annual temperatures (MATs) of up to 13.8°C (i.e. higher than today’s by up to 2.9°C). Three cooler events can be seen throughout the succession as reflected by the presence of Rana iberica, Anguis fragilis and Coronella austriaca. The first of these events may correlate with MIS 5b; the second in the Central sector may correlate with the Stadial I pollen event occurring at the end of MIS 5a; and the third event, corresponding to the coldest MAT of the entire succession with MATs 0.9°C lower than today’s, may correspond to the transition from MIS 5a to MIS 4. The evolution of mean annual precipitation (MAP) is characterized by warm periods, drier and cold periods, as well as wetter periods (up to +356 mm compared to today’s MAP values), similar to what occurs today in the high-elevation areas of the neighbouring mountains. Our study gives new quantitative estimations for the climatic fluctuations in mountain environments of central Spain at the MIS 5/4 transition and their associated ecological changes.
    Boreas 01/2014; 43:107–120. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pleistocene level TD6-2 of the Gran Dolina site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain) is the result of anthropogenic accumulation. Hominin groups occupied the cave as a home base, where they brought in, butchered and consumed the carcasses of ungulates and other hominins. In this paper, we reassess the role of carnivores in the formation and/or modification of the assemblage. We employed different methods to explore the scenario in which the TD6-2 assemblage was formed: (1) identifying the actor responsible for tooth marks; (2) determining the frequency of carnivore tooth marks and their distribution; (3) identifying the co-occurrence of modifications (butchering marks and carnivore tooth marks); (4) calculating the percentage of change and the epiphysis to shaft ratio. Carnivore tooth marks are scarce, as is the co-occurrence of hominin and carnivore modifications. However, not all tooth marks have been attributed to a particular agent due to the high equifinality between human and carnivore tooth marks. For these reasons, the frequency of tooth marks and the co-occurrence of modifications have been of little help in interpreting the role of carnivores. Axial skeletal remains and the epiphyses of the long bones are in large part missing. The percentage of change and the epiphysis to shaft ratio suggest moderate carnivore ravaging activity. Our data indicate that the role of carnivores in TD6-2 seems to have had an impact on the original assemblage after hominins had extracted a large amount of nutrients from the carcasses. Cannibalized hominin remains showed no carnivore tooth marks and have a greater presence of low survival bones compared to ungulate remains. These findings point to a different taphonomic history suggesting that TD6-2 represents a succession of settlements having different characteristics.
    Quaternary Science Reviews 01/2014; 93:47–66. · 4.57 Impact Factor
  • Landscapes and Landforms of Spain, Edited by F. Gutiérrez, M. Gutiérrez, 01/2014: pages 101-111; Springer., ISBN: 9789401786287
  • Source
    1st Young Natural History scientists’ Meeting, Paris, France; 01/2014

Publication Stats

4k Citations
790.31 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2014
    • American Museum of Natural History
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 2007–2014
    • University of Alcalá
      • • Department of Geology, Geography and Environment
      • • Department of Signal and Communications Theory
      Cómpluto, Madrid, Spain
    • University of Leipzig
      Leipzig, Saxony, Germany
  • 1990–2014
    • Complutense University of Madrid
      • • Departamento de Paleontología
      • • Facultad de Ciencias Geológicas
      Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • 2013
    • Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology
      • Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology
      Beijing, Beijing Shi, China
    • Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
  • 2011–2013
    • Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social
      Tarraco, Catalonia, Spain
    • Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research
      Altenberg, Upper Austria, Austria
  • 2005–2013
    • Centro de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana
      Burgos, Castille and León, Spain
    • Uppsala University
      Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 2012
    • Swedish Museum of Natural History
      Tukholma, Stockholm, Sweden
    • University of Cambridge
      • Division of Biological Anthropology
      Cambridge, ENG, United Kingdom
    • George Washington University
      • Department of Anthropology
      Washington, D. C., DC, United States
  • 2005–2012
    • Instituto de Salud Carlos III
      Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • 1999–2011
    • Universitat Rovira i Virgili
      Tarraco, Catalonia, Spain
    • University of Barcelona
      • Departament de Biologia Animal
      Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
  • 1997–2011
    • University of Zaragoza
      • Faculty of Sciences (CIENCIAS)
      Caesaraugusta, Aragon, Spain
  • 1999–2007
    • Universidad de Burgos
      • Departamento de Ciencias Históricas y Geografía
      Burgos, Castile and Leon, Spain
  • 2000–2004
    • Sapienza University of Rome
      Roma, Latium, Italy
    • University of Michigan
      Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
  • 1999–2003
    • Spanish National Research Council
      • Departamento de Paleobiología
      Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • 2001
    • State University of New York
      New York City, New York, United States