February 23, 2019-2:00 PM: Jamie Hodgkins, PhD, University of Colorado, Denver

Climate change and the evolution of us

New species belonging to the genus Homo are discovered more and more frequently. Paleoanthropological research has revealed that our own family lineage is far more complex than once thought, yet it is also true that through time this diversity has been whittled down to one remaining species, Homo sapiens. Understanding why our species has survived when others did not is key to determining what makes us “human” and where we fit into the natural world. Reconstructing landscapes use patterns, hunting, and foraging behaviors, and the mobility of early modern humans and our closest fossil relatives the Neandertals can help tease apart ecological factors that contributed to our success. Using a combination of zooarchaeology, isotope geochemistry, and aerial photography this talk will summarize work currently in progress to reconstruct the daily foraging habits, and nutritional choices of early modern humans in Africa and of Neandertals in Europe. Reconstructions of the ecological changes to the environment experienced by hominids in both of these locations will also be discussed.


Jamie Hodgkins received her PhD from Arizona State University in 2012. She is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado Denver. Working in Spain, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Morocco, and South Africa allowed her to explore the history of each country.  As an archaeologist her work focuses on reconstructing the behaviors of early modern humans (Homo sapiens) and Neandertals and what those behaviors indicate about what it means to be “human”. Her publications center on how humans (including Neandertals) and animals dealt with climate change in the Pleistocene. She publishes in peer-reviewed journals including: The Journal of Human Evolution, Journal of Archaeological Science, Quaternary Science Reviews, Paleoanthropology, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Her highest impact publication thus far is: Climate-mediated shifts in Neandertal subsistence behaviors at Pech de l’Azé IV and Roc de Marsal (Dordogne Valley, France). Journal of Human Evolution. 96:1-18

Each year, CU Denver students are selected to participate in fieldwork at Pinnacle Point and Arma Veirana. Students rotate between excavating, running the total station (which takes 3D coordinate data for the artifacts), and helping to curate the collection, thus providing them with valuable experience in the modern methods of Paleolithic archaeology.

Selected Publications

2018 Hodgkins J, Le Roux P, Marean CW, Penkman K, Crisp M, Fisher, E, Lee-Thorp JA. The role of ostrich in shaping the landscape use patterns of humans and hyenas on the southern coast of South Africa during the late Pleistocene. In: Pilaar Birch S (ed.) Multispecies Archaeology. Taylor & Francis/Routledge: Oxford, pp.333

2018 Hodgkins J. Taphonomical and zooarchaeological analysis of Bordes’ excavated material from levels I2 and Y-Z. In: Dibble HL, McPherron SM, Goldberg P, Sandgathe D. (eds.) The Middle Paleolithic Site of Pech de l’Azé IV. Springer: New York, pp.83

2017 Hodgkins J and Marean CW. New information from old excavations: A comparative analysis of Paleolithic zooarchaeological assemblages from the Zagros Mountains. In: Biglari F, Mashkour M, Shidrang S (eds.) The Pleistocene Archaeology of the Iranian Plateau, Iraq and the Caucasus. National Museum of Iran Paleolithic Studies Series, No. 1, National Museum of Iran, Tehran

2016 Hodgkins J, Marean CW, Turq A, Sandgathe D, McPherron SP, Dibble HL, Climate-mediated shifts in Neandertal subsistence behaviors at Pech de l’Azé IV and Roc de Marsal (Dordogne Valley, France) Journal of Human Evolution. 96:1-18

2016 Strait DS, Orr CM, Hodgkins J, Spassov N, Gurova M, Miller C, Tzankov T.
The human fossil record of Bulgaria and the formulation of biogeographic hypotheses. In: Harvati K, Roksandic M, (ed). Paleoanthropology in the Balkans. Springer: Dordrecht, Chapter 5. pp 69-78

2016 Copeland S, Cawthra HC, Fisher EC, Lee-Throp JA, Cowling, RM, Le Roux PJ, Hodgkins J, Marean CW. Strontium Isotope Investigation of Ungulate Movement Patterns on the Pleistocene Paleo-Agulhas Plain of the Greater Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews. 141:65-84.

2014 Morin E, Delagnes A, Armand D, Castel J-C, Hodgkins J. Millennial-scale change in archaeofaunas and their implications for Mousterian lithic variability in southwest France. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. 36:158-180

2011 Sandgathe DM, Dibble HL, Goldberg P, McPherron SP, Turq A, Niven L, Hodgkins J. On the Role of Fire in Neandertal Adaptations in Western Europe: Evidence from Pech de l’Azé IV and Roc de Marsal, France. Paleoanthropology 2011: 216-242

2011 Sandgathe DM, Dibble HL, Goldberg P, McPherron SP, Turq A, Niven L, Hodgkins J. Timing of the appearance of habitual fire use. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. 108:E298