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Lauren Spencer

Research project

Accounting for Variation in Neanderthal Anatomy and Behaviour in Research: A Study of European Populations.

Supervisors: Penny Spikins and Laura Fitton

Summary of research project:

This research aims to assess the significance of variation in the behaviour and anatomy of Homo neanderthalensis across Europe, thus determining the importance of selecting specimens for studies based on their attributes rather than ease of access. In literature pertaining to Neanderthal behaviour or anatomy, they are often written as one homogenous population. However, it is very unlikely that they were, due to the vast distance and time between groups. Would Neanderthals living in early Northern Europe really have the same anatomical adaptations and behaviours as those in late Southern Europe? By analysing stone tools, raw material movement, and diet data from across Europe, distinct patterns in behaviour can be seen. Comparing these to the specimens used in anatomical debates such as the “Anterior Dental Loading Hypothesis” will show the pertinence of these variations to the conclusions being drawn in research.


I completed a BSc (Hons) in Forensic Science at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, and an MSc in Palaeoanthropology at the University of Sheffield. My undergraduate dissertation assessed the age estimation technique of the pubic symphysis by Suchey-Brooks, and whether this technique could be used accurately on digital images. I presented this research at a BAHID conference in 2016 and won second prize for UG/PG research. My MSc research project studied the size reduction of canines throughout the hominin lineage, with comparison to other hominids.

Teaching & Impact


GTA teaching experience: First year; Introduction to Archaeological Science Feb-May 2021

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Contact details

Lauren Spencer
PalaeoHub Department of Archaeology
University of York
Wentworth Way Heslington

Tel: (44) 1904 433931