The Pleistocene fauna in Palaeolithic sites: the human-animal connection

With this project we wish to widen and enrich the debate on human-animal relationships in the upper and middle Palaeolithic. One of the most obvious associations is the hunting of animals of prey by Palaeolithic people. This is still contested for large species such as the woolly mammoth or woolly rhinoceros. We continue to examine this controversial issue by studying not only prehistoric sites but also natural sites with large assemblages of these pachyderms. Also changes in the relative importance of reindeer, horse and large bovids in Palaeolithic assemblages will be analyzed to determine whether this can be related to a decline in the availability of certain species or to a deliberately choice of the prehistoric hunters. Furthermore, we are also interested in the use prehistoric people made of animals that are rarely studied from Palaeolithic sites, such as fishes and birds. Were these animals actively harvested? Were they utilized for food or can other uses be discerned? In addition, we intend to continue the study of the possible ritual dimensions of Palaeolithic faunal assemblages. These assemblages not only reflect subsistence practices but also the spiritual importance of the remains of hunted animals, as shown in the pilot project on Palaeolithic bear rituals. Such a study will be repeated for the other species present in Palaeolithic assemblages from Belgian, Czech and Russian sites, in order to recognize a possible religious world-view that could have influenced human-animal interactions during the Pleistocene. 


  • Germonpré, M., 2012. Impressions de visite entre Paléontologie et Anthropologie culturelle. In : Geneste, J.-M. (Ed.), 2012. Études pluridisciplinaires à la grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc (Ardèche). Rapports d’activités 2010-2012, Programme P9 l’Art paléolithique et épipaléolithique, Service Régional de l’Archéologie de Rhône-Alpes, Lyon, Volume II : 43-56.

  • Germonpré, M. 2009. La faune pléistocène de Goyet. In : Di Modica, K. & Jungels, C. (eds), Paléolithique moyen en Wallonie. La collection Louis Eloy. Collections du Patrimoine culture de la Communauté française, 2 : 169-170.

  • Germonpré, M., Sablin, M., Khlopachev, G.A., Grigoreiva, G.V. 2008. Possible evidence of mammoth hunting during the Epigravettian at Yudinovo, Russian Plain. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 27: 475-492.

  • Germonpré M., Hämäläinen R. 2007. Fossil bear bones in the Belgian Upper Palaeolithic: the possibility of a proto-bear ceremonialism. Arctic Anthropology 44: 1-30.

  • Germonpré, M. 2001. A reconstruction of the spatial distribution of the faunal remains from Goyet, Belgium. Notae praehistoricae, 21: 57-65.

  • Germonpré, M., 1997. The Magdalenian upper horizon of Goyet and the late Upper Palaeolithic recolonisation of the Belgian Ardennes. Bulletin de l'Institut royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique, Série Sciences de la Terre 67: 167-182.

  • Germonpré, M., Lbova, L., 1996. Mammalian remains from the Upper Palaeolithic site of Kamenka, Buryatia (Siberia). Journal of Archaeological Science 23: 35-57.

  • Germonpré, M., 1993. Preliminary results on the taphonomy of Denisova cave 1992 excavation. Altaica 2: 11-16.

  • Palkopoulou,  E., Dalén, L., Lister, L.M., Vartanyan, S., Sablin, M., Sher, A., Nyström Edmark, V., Brandström, M.D., Germonpré, M., Barnes, I., Thomas, J.A., in press. Holarctic genetic structure and range dynamics in the woolly mammoth. Proc. R. Soc. B, 280, 20131910.

  • Rougier, H. Crevecoeur, I., Beauval, C., Bocherens, H., Flas, D., Germonpré, M., Semal, P. van der Plicht, J. 2012. New data from and old site : Neandertals at Goyet (Belgium) and their mortuary behavior. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Supplement: Program of the 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists 147 (S54), 252-253.

  • Rougier H., Crevecoeur I., Beauval C., Flas D., Bocherens H., Wissing C., Germonpré  M., Semal P. & van der Plicht J., 2013. The first Upper Paleolithic human remains from Belgium: Aurignacian, Gravettian and Magdalenian fossils at the "Troisième caverne" of Goyet. PaleoAnthropology 2013: A 33.

  • Semal, P., Rougier, H., Crevecoeur, I., Jungels, C., Flas, D., Hauzeur, A., Maureille, B., Germonpré, M., Bocherens, H., Pirson, S., Cammaert, L., De Clerck, N., Hambucken, A., Higham, T., Toussaint, M., van der Plicht, J., 2009. New Data on the Late Neandertals: Direct Dating of the Belgian Spy Fossils. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 138: 421-428.

  • Van Neer, W.,Wouters, W. and Germonpré, M. (2007) Fish remains from three Upper Palaeolithic cave deposits in southern Belgium. Anthropologica et Praehistorica 118, 5-22.

Internal member(s)
Mietje Germonpré
Wim Van Neer
Quentin Goffette
Mircea Udrescu
Patrick Semal
Other member(s)
Martina Galetová, Mikhail Sablin, Hervé Bocherens, Damien Flas, Love Dalèn, Philippe Fosse, Michail Hofreiter, Hélène Rougier, Isabelle Crevecoeur
RBINS, Synthesys
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