Erik Trinkaus

Washington University in St. Louis, San Luis, Missouri, United States

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Publications (171)672.69 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The Late Pleistocene archaic humans from western Eurasia (the Neandertals) have been described for a century as exhibiting absolutely and relatively long clavicles. This aspect of their body proportions has been used to distinguish them from modern humans, invoked to account for other aspects of their anatomy and genetics, used in assessments of their phylogenetic polarities, and used as evidence for Late Pleistocene population relationships. However, it has been unclear whether the usual scaling of Neandertal clavicular lengths to their associated humeral lengths reflects long clavicles, short humeri, or both. Neandertal clavicle lengths, along with those of early modern humans and latitudinally diverse recent humans, were compared with both humeral lengths and estimated body masses (based on femoral head diameters). The Neandertal do have long clavicles relative their humeri, even though they fall within the ranges of variation of early and recent humans. However, when scaled to body masses, their humeral lengths are relatively short, and their clavicular lengths are indistinguishable from those of Late Pleistocene and recent modern humans. The few sufficiently complete Early Pleistocene Homo clavicles seem to have relative lengths also well within recent human variation. Therefore, appropriately scaled clavicular length seems to have varied little through the genus Homo, and it should not be used to account for other aspects of Neandertal biology or their phylogenetic status.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The human distal thumb phalanx from the earlier Upper Paleolithic of Obłazowa Cave, southern Poland, exhibits features of its palmar surface that align it morphologically principally with early modern humans. These aspects include the configurations of the proximal palmar fossa, the flexor pollicis longus tendon insertion, the proximal margin of the palmar apical tuft, and especially its low ulnar deviation angle. If it is assumed that it possessed the pollical phalangeal length proportions of an early modern human, it would exhibit modest base and tuft breadths. However, given Late Pleistocene archaic-modern contrasts in relative pollical phalanx lengths, the isolated nature of the phalanx prevents secure assessment of its radioulnar interphalangeal articular and apicaltuft hypertrophy. Similar constraints apply to the assessment of other Pleistocene Homo pollical phalanges.
    Homo: internationale Zeitschrift fur die vergleichende Forschung am Menschen 02/2014; 65(1):1-12. · 0.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Le diamètre de la tête fémorale de Regourdou 1 a été estimé à partir des dimensions de la portion ischiatique de l’acétabulum. Cette mesure permet d’estimer certaines variables corporelles et apporte ainsi de nouvelles données sur la taille et les proportions corporelles des hommes du Pléistocène supérieur. L’estimation de ce diamètre s’est faite en deux étapes. Dans un premier temps, une sphère a été virtuellement conformée sur la surface 3D de l’acétabulum ischiatique. Dans un second temps, le diamètre de la tête fémorale a été estimé à partir du diamètre de la sphère acétabulaire grâce à une formule de régression calculée sur un échantillon de référence moderne. La moyenne des résultats obtenus, comme l’étendue des valeurs, place Regourdou 1 parmi les plus petits Néandertaliens (Europe et Asie du Sud-Ouest confondus), bien que cet individu présente une longueur humérale supérieure à la moyenne de ce même échantillon. Ces caractéristiques permettent de rapprocher Regourdou 1 de Kebara 2, ces deux individus présentant des bras relativement longs par rapport à la taille du corps. Ces nouvelles données sont ainsi l’occasion d’enrichir la variation des proportions corporelles chez les Néandertaliens.
    Comptes Rendus Palevol 01/2014; · 1.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Despite numerous sites of great antiquity having been excavated since the end of the 19th century, Middle Pleistocene human fossils are still extremely rare in northwestern Europe. Apart from the two partial crania from Biache-Saint-Vaast in northern France, all known human fossils from this period have been found from ten sites in either Germany or England. Here we report the discovery of three long bones from the same left upper limb discovered at the open-air site of Tourville-la-Rivière in the Seine Valley of northern France. New U-series and combined US-ESR dating on animal teeth produced an age range for the site of 183 to 236 ka. In combination with paleoecological indicators, they indicate an age toward the end of MIS 7. The human remains from Tourville-la-Rivière are attributable to the Neandertal lineage based on morphological and metric analyses. An abnormal crest on the left humerus represents a deltoid muscle enthesis. Micro- and or macro-traumas connected to repetitive movements similar to those documented for professional throwing athletes could be origin of abnormality.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(10):e104111. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: a b s t r a c t The hominin teeth and evidence of hominin activities recovered from 1991 to 2005 at the Panxian Dadong site in South China are dated to the late Middle Pleistocene (MIS 8e6 or ca. 130e300 ka), a period for which very little is known about the morphology of Asian populations. The present study provides the first detailed morphometric description and comparisons of four hominin teeth (I 1 , C 1 , P 3 and P 3) from this site. Our study shows that the Panxian Dadong teeth combine archaic and derived features that align them with Middle and Upper Pleistocene fossils from East and West Asia and Europe. These teeth do not display any typical Neanderthal features and they are generally more derived than other con-temporaneous populations from Asia and Africa. However, the derived traits are not diagnostic enough to specifically link the Panxian Dadong teeth to Homo sapiens, a common problem when analyzing the Middle Pleistocene dental record from Africa and Asia. These findings are contextualized in the dis-cussion of the evolutionary course of Asian Middle Pleistocene hominins, and they highlight the ne-cessity of incorporating the Asian fossil record in the still open debate about the origin of H. sapiens.
    Journal of Human Evolution 01/2013; 64:337-355. · 4.09 Impact Factor
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    Xiu-Jie Wu, Song Xing, Erik Trinkaus
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    ABSTRACT: We report here a neurocranial abnormality previously undescribed in Pleistocene human fossils, an enlarged parietal foramen (EPF) in the early Late Pleistocene Xujiayao 11 parietal bones from the Xujiayao (Houjiayao) site, northern China. Xujiayao 11 is a pair of partial posteromedial parietal bones from an adult. It exhibits thick cranial vault bones, arachnoid granulations, a deviated posterior sagittal suture, and a unilateral (right) parietal lacuna with a posteriorly-directed and enlarged endocranial vascular sulcus. Differential diagnosis indicates that the perforation is a congenital defect, an enlarged parietal foramen, commonly associated with cerebral venous and cranial vault anomalies. It was not lethal given the individual's age-at-death, but it may have been associated with secondary neurological deficiencies. The fossil constitutes the oldest evidence in human evolution of this very rare condition (a single enlarged parietal foramen). In combination with developmental and degenerative abnormalities in other Pleistocene human remains, it suggests demographic and survival patterns among Pleistocene Homo that led to an elevated frequency of conditions unknown or rare among recent humans.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(3):e59587. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Trinkaus E, Constantin S, Zilhao J
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    ABSTRACT: The Pestera cu Oase is a sealed limestone cavern in southwestern Romania which served principally as a hibernation den for Pleistocene cave bears and wolves, but also contained the fossil remains of the earliest modern humans in Europe. Currently inaccessible except through cave diving and rock climbing, the cave preserved its contents undisturbed for tens of thousands of years. To understand the cave, its contents, the bear and wolves, and especially the humans, an international team mapped and excavated the Pestera cu Oase from 2002 to 2005, and has since analyzed its remains in detail. The result was a wealth of information on the geology and paleontology of this cave as a reflection of life in the southwestern Carpathians 40-50 thousand years ago. This volume presents those findings. Among other things, the large cave bears provided the first solid evidence of the omnivorous nature of these not-so-gentle giants. The deer remains brought into the cave by wolves are among the largest known in Europe and document the westernmost extent of the eastern (wapiti) variant of this species. And the human remains, a complete lower jaw of a young adult and a largely complete skull of an adolescent, furhish detailed information on the anatomy of the earliet modern Europeans, who were modern without being fully modern. They combine an overall distinctly modern anatomy with traits reminescent of earlier archaic humans and among the largest rear molars in the genus Homo. They thus document the initial spread of modern humans into the cul-de-sac of Europe, the complex ancestry of those humans, and the ongoing nature of human evolution after the established of people like ourselves.
    01/2013; Oxford University Press., ISBN: 978-0-19-539822-9
  • Xiu-Jie Wu, Erik Trinkaus
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    ABSTRACT: Cet article décrit une branche mandibulaire humaine du Pléistocène supérieur ancien trouvée à Xujiayao (Chine du Nord). La pièce porte des caractères dont la distribution varie parmi les groupes attribués à Homo et issus de l’Ouest de l’ancien monde, mais aussi entre les hommes archaïques du Pléistocène ancien et moyen et les hommes modernes du Pléistocène supérieur d’Asie de l’Est. Dans le détail, Xujiayao 14 présente une incisure mandibulaire en position latérale par rapport au condyle, un foramen mandibulaire en forme de V, une branche large, une incisure mandibulaire asymétrique, un tubercule ptérygoïdien médial supérieur développé, un probable espace rétromolaire et une éversion goniaque, ainsi qu’une dépression peu commune dans le planum triangulare. Les deux premiers traits semblent être primitifs pour les représentants tardifs du genre Homo et sont prédominants chez les hommes modernes. Les deux caractères suivants séparent nettement Xujiayao 14 et les représentants primitifs du genre Homo des hommes modernes. Les cinquième et sixième caractères sont les plus fréquents chez les Néandertaliens, alors que l’ éversion goniaque tranche avec les Néandertaliens du Pléistocène supérieur. Xujiayao 14, considéré dans le contexte à la fois des représentants récents et du Pléistocène du genre Homo et des autres restes humains de Xujiayao, présente une mosaïque morphologique qui met en évidence l’existence d’une variabilité régionale au cours du Pléistocène.
    Comptes Rendus Palevol 01/2013; · 1.01 Impact Factor
  • S.A. Lacy, E. Trinkaus
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    ABSTRACT: The Mid Upper Paleolithic immature Sunghir 2 and 3 skeletal remains exhibit non-closure and doubling of several of their cervical vertebral foramina transversaria. Both exhibit non-closure of the atlas (C1) foramina. Sunghir 3 also exhibits foraminal non-closure in her C4 to C5. Sunghir 2 has doubling of the foramen on C4 and C6, whereas Sunghir 3 has it on C4 to C6. The anatomical distribution of these variants places Sunghir 2 and 3 at the limits of recent human cervical vertebral morphological variation. The correspondence between these variants and vascular pathways is unclear, and therefore their implications remain uncertain.
    Archaeology Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia 01/2013; 41(3):126–131.
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    ABSTRACT: The Gruta da Oliveira is a Middle Paleolithic site discovered in 1989 in the framework of the speleo- -archeological exploration of the karstic system associated with the spring of the Almonda River. Removal of the thick brecciated rubble that sealed its collapsed entrance allowed excavation, between 1992 and 2012, of the underlying, ~9 m -thick archeological stratification. Besides lithic assemblages in flint, quartz and quartzite totaling >25,000 objects, Neandertal skeletal remains, and hearth features, the deposit also yielded abundant microfaunal, faunal and wood charcoal remains. Dated to the ~35 -105 ka interval by Radiocarbon, Uranium- -Thorium and Thermoluminescence, the Gruta da Oliveira is a reference succession for the paleoenvironmental and paleoanthropological study of the Upper Pleistocene of Iberia
    Arqueologia em Portugal - 150 anos, Lisbon; 01/2013
  • X. J. Wu, E. Trinkaus
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    ABSTRACT: The early Late Pleistocene late archaic human remains from Xujiayao, northern China, reveal several abnormalities of the neurocranial vault. The Xujiayao site is located on the northwestern boundary of the Nihewan Basin, and on the basis of various indicators, it dates to the early Late Pleistocene. Among the 15 human neurocranial elements found at Xujiayao in the 1970s, three elements show minor traumatic lesions of the external table: the largely complete Xujiayao 5a immature parietal bone, the Xujiayao 8 small piece of anterior right parietal bone and the Xujiayao 12 partial occipital bone. The lesions are all superior to the temporal or nuchal lines and hence were subcutaneous, covered only by the pericranium, the galea aponeurotica and the overlying skin. The external tables are variably concave with irregular bone within the bony depressions, and the diploë show varying degrees of involvement. The Xujiayao abnormalities join a series of minor neurocranial healed lesions among Pleistocene humans, as well as more pronounced healed neurocranial and facial trauma. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 11/2012; · 0.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The biomechanical characterization of lower limb long bones in the chrono-ecogeographically diverse species Homo erectus is a fundamental step for assessing evolutionary changes in locomotor mode and body shape that occurred within the genus Homo. However, the samples available for the Early and earlier Middle Pleistocene are small and widely scattered in time and space, thus limiting our understanding of the nature and polarity of morphological trends. Compared to the African fossil record, loading histories based on detailed biomechanical assessment of diaphyseal strength in Indonesian H. erectus lower limb long bones have not been assessed. By using a microtomographic record (μCT), we performed a quantitative analysis of the biomechanical properties and structural organization of Kresna 11, a late Early Pleistocene adult H. erectus femoral shaft from the Sangiran Dome, Central Java. Relative to the modern human condition, Kresna 11 shows the predominant mediolateral cortical thickening (hypertrophy) and the distal displacement of the minimum diaphyseal breadth characteristic of early Homo femora, associated nonetheless with relatively modest cortical thickness within the mid-proximal portion. Synthetic functional imaging of the shaft through the planar representation of its inner structure has revealed distal thickening of the medial cortex, a feature previously unreported in H. erectus. The increase in relative mediolateral bending strength observed in Kresna 11 supports the hypothesis that, rather than simply reflecting differences in patterns of locomotor loading, biomechanical properties of the femoral shaft in archaic Homo are strongly influenced by body shape, i.e., variations in pelvic breadth and femoral neck length.
    Journal of Human Evolution 10/2012; 63(5):741-9. · 4.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Mid Upper Paleolithic Sunghir 3 late juvenile early modern human, from the most elaborate burial in the Pleistocene, had pathologically foreshortened and anteriorly bowed femora and, based on her dental enamel hypoplasias and transverse lines, sustained severe and persistent systemic stress throughout her decade of life. Her modest femoral and tibial asymmetry and her femoral bicondylar angles indicate non-pathological patterns of posture and locomotion. The levels of rigidity for her weight-bearing tibiae and the non-dominant left arm reflect normal weight-bearing and manipulation. These indicators are combined with an elevated level of right humeral strength, leading to pronounced humeral diaphyseal asymmetry, combined with elevated muscular insertion asymmetry. In combination with marked upper limb muscle markings and normal levels of bone formation, these reflections of her robustness indicate that she was fully mobile and participated actively in the tasks of her social group. There is no indication of the skeletal hypotrophy/atrophy that would be associated with less than full participation in the mobility and subsistence of her social group. As such, Sunghir 3 joins a growing list of developmentally or degeneratively pathological Late Pleistocene humans who nonetheless remained mobile and active. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 09/2012; · 0.95 Impact Factor
  • Erik Trinkaus
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    ABSTRACT: The distal half of a right human humerus (E.898), recovered ex situ in 1925 by Hrdlička at the Broken Hill Mine, Kabwe, Zambia, has figured prominently in assessments of Middle Pleistocene Homo postcranial variation and of the phylogenetic polarity and functional anatomy of Pleistocene Homo upper limb morphology. Reassessment of distal humeral features that distinguish modern human and some archaic Homo humeri, especially relative olecranon breadth and medial and lateral pillar thicknesses, confirm previous studies placing it morphologically close to recent humans, as well as possibly to Early Pleistocene Homo. However, it completely lacks stratigraphic context, and there is faunal and archeological evidence for human activity at Broken Hill from the Middle Pleistocene to the Holocene. Given its uncertain geological age and modern human morphology, the Broken Hill E.898 humerus should not be used in analyses of Pleistocene humans until it is securely dated. Am J Phys Anthropol 149:312-317, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 07/2012; 149(2):312-7. · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    Xiu-Jie Wu, Scott D Maddux, Lei Pan, Erik Trinkaus
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    ABSTRACT: A bi-level nasal floor, although present in most Pleistocene and recent human samples, reaches its highest frequency among the western Eurasian Neandertals and has been considered a fea-ture distinctive of them. Early modern humans, in contrast, tend to feature a level (or sloping) nasal floor. Sufficiently intact maxillae are rare among eastern Eurasian Pleistocene humans, but several fos-sils provide nasal floor configurations. The available eastern Eurasian Late Pleistocene early modern humans have predominantly level nasal floors, similar to western early modern humans. Of the four observable eastern Eurasian archaic Homo maxillae (Sangiran 4, Chaoxian 1, Xujiayao 1, and Chang-yang 1), three have the bi-level pattern and the fourth is scored as bi-level/sloping. It therefore appears that bi-level nasal floors were common among Pleistocene archaic humans, and a high frequency of them is not distinctive of the Neandertals.
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    ABSTRACT: Additional Middle Paleolithic human remains from layers 17, 18, and 22 of the Gruta da Oliveira, Portugal consist of a proximal manual phalanx 2 (Oliveira 5), a partial postcanine tooth (Oliveira 6), a humeral diaphysis (Oliveira 7), a distal mandibular molar (Oliveira 8), and a mandibular premolar (P(3) ) (Oliveira 9). Oliveira 5, 6, and 8 are unremarkable for Late Pleistocene humans. The Oliveira 7 right humerus is moderately robust or the individual had the stocky body proportions of other European (including Iberian) Neandertals. The Oliveira 9 P(3) has a large and symmetrical crown and lacks a distal accessory ridge and accessory lingual cusps, overlapping both Neandertal and recent human ranges of variation. It contrasts with at least recent human P(3) s in having relatively thin enamel. These join the Oliveira 1 to 4 remains in further documenting early MIS 3 Neandertal morphology in western Iberia.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 05/2012; 149(1):39-51. · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There is a dearth of diagnostic human remains securely associated with the Early Aurignacian of western Europe, despite the presence of similarly aged early modern human remains from further east. One small and fragmentary sample of such remains consists of the two partial immature mandibles plus teeth from the Early Aurignacian of La Quina-Aval, Charente, France. The La Quina-Aval 4 mandible exhibits a prominent anterior symphyseal tuber symphyseos on a vertical symphysis and a narrow anterior dental arcade, both features of early modern humans. The dental remains from La Quina-Aval 1 to 4 (a dm(1), 2 dm(2), a P(4) and a P(4)) are unexceptional in size and present occlusal configurations that combine early modern human features with a few retained ancestral ones. Securely dated to ~33 ka (14)C BP (~38 ka cal BP), these remains serve to confirm the association of early modern humans with the Early Aurignacian in western Europe.
    Journal of Human Evolution 03/2012; 62(5):605-17. · 4.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Paleopathological assessment of the late Middle Pleistocene archaic human cranium from Maba, South China, has documented a right frontal squamous exocranially concave and ridged lesion with endocranial protrusion. Differential diagnosis indicates that it resulted from localized blunt force trauma, due to an accident or, more probably, interhuman aggression. As such it joins a small sample of pre-last glacial maximum Pleistocene human remains with probable evidence of humanly induced trauma. Its remodeled condition also indicates survival of a serious pathological condition, a circumstance that is increasingly documented for archaic and modern Homo through the Pleistocene.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2011; 108(49):19558-62. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The earliest anatomically modern humans in Europe are thought to have appeared around 43,000-42,000 calendar years before present (43-42 kyr cal BP), by association with Aurignacian sites and lithic assemblages assumed to have been made by modern humans rather than by Neanderthals. However, the actual physical evidence for modern humans is extremely rare, and direct dates reach no farther back than about 41-39 kyr cal BP, leaving a gap. Here we show, using stratigraphic, chronological and archaeological data, that a fragment of human maxilla from the Kent's Cavern site, UK, dates to the earlier period. The maxilla (KC4), which was excavated in 1927, was initially diagnosed as Upper Palaeolithic modern human. In 1989, it was directly radiocarbon dated by accelerator mass spectrometry to 36.4-34.7 kyr cal BP. Using a Bayesian analysis of new ultrafiltered bone collagen dates in an ordered stratigraphic sequence at the site, we show that this date is a considerable underestimate. Instead, KC4 dates to 44.2-41.5 kyr cal BP. This makes it older than any other equivalently dated modern human specimen and directly contemporary with the latest European Neanderthals, thus making its taxonomic attribution crucial. We also show that in 13 dental traits KC4 possesses modern human rather than Neanderthal characteristics; three other traits show Neanderthal affinities and a further seven are ambiguous. KC4 therefore represents the oldest known anatomically modern human fossil in northwestern Europe, fills a key gap between the earliest dated Aurignacian remains and the earliest human skeletal remains, and demonstrates the wide and rapid dispersal of early modern humans across Europe more than 40 kyr ago.
    Nature 11/2011; 479(7374):521-4. · 38.60 Impact Factor
  • Erik Trinkaus
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    ABSTRACT: The La Chapelle-aux-Saints 1 Neandertal has figured prominently in considerations of Neandertal body size and proportions. In this context, a reassessment of its major long bones and a reassembly of its principal pelvic elements (sacrum and right ilium) was undertaken. There are secure measurements for its humeral and radial lengths and its femoral head diameter, but the femoral and tibial lengths were almost certainly greater than previous values. The resultant humeral, femoral and tibial lengths are similar to those of other male Neandertals, its femoral head diameter is among the largest known for Middle and Late Pleistocene humans, but its radial length is relatively short. The pelvic assembly provides modest bi-iliac and inlet transverse diameters compared with the few sufficiently complete and undistorted Middle and Late Pleistocene archaic human pelves, but its dimensions are similar to those of large male early modern humans.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 07/2011; 145(3):461-8. · 2.48 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

4k Citations
672.69 Total Impact Points


  • 1997–2014
    • Washington University in St. Louis
      • Department of Anthropology
      San Luis, Missouri, United States
    • University of Arkansas
      • Department of Anthropology
      Fayetteville, AR, United States
  • 2007–2013
    • Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology
      • • Key Laboratory of Evolutionary Systematics of Vertebrates
      • • Department of Paleoanthropology
      Beijing, Beijing Shi, China
  • 2008–2012
    • Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
      • Department of Human Evolution
      Leipzig, Saxony, Germany
    • Durham University
      Durham, England, United Kingdom
  • 2011
    • University of British Columbia - Vancouver
      • Department of Anthropology
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2008–2011
    • University of Murcia
      • Facultad de Biología
      Murcia, Murcia, Spain
  • 1994–2010
    • Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
  • 2006
    • University of Oxford
      • Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU)
      Oxford, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 1994–2006
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution
      Baltimore, MD, United States
  • 2005
    • Case Western Reserve University
      Cleveland, Ohio, United States
    • Harvard University
      • Department of Anthropology
      Cambridge, MA, United States
  • 1993–2005
    • Université Bordeaux 1
      Talence, Aquitaine, France
  • 1985–2005
    • University of New Mexico
      • Department of Anthropology
      Albuquerque, NM, United States
  • 2002
    • Université du Québec à Montréal
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  • 2001
    • University of Bradford
      • Department of Archaeological and Environmental Science
      Bradford, ENG, United Kingdom
    • Naturhistorisches Museum Wien
      Wien, Vienna, Austria
  • 2000
    • University of Bordeaux
      Burdeos, Aquitaine, France
  • 1998
    • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
      • Department of Anthropology
      New Brunswick, NJ, United States
  • 1995–1997
    • French National Centre for Scientific Research
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France