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Michael B. C. Rivera


2014‒present: PhD in Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK

2013‒2014: MPhil in Biological Anthropological Science, University of Cambridge, UK

2009‒2013: BSc in Anthropology with a Year in Europe, University of Kent, UK


Research Interests

  • Biomechanics and activity reconstruction
  • Coastal hunter-gatherer behaviour
  • Agricultural transitions
  • Human palaeopathology
  • Climatic adaptation and neutral evolution
  • Public science outreach




Bioarchaeology of the prehistoric Baltics

My PhD thesis focuses on exploring changes in human activity, diet and health in the ancient Baltics (Estonia and Latvia) between the Mesolithic and the Iron Age (10,000 BC—850 AD). The study of prehistoric hunter-fisher-gatherers and early agricultural and metal-working groups on the Baltic coast is important for understanding the extent to which incipient agricultural practices affected bone robusticity levels, general diets and health levels within a lowland, coastal context. The results of this research will expound the role of coastal societies in the global narrative of agricultural transitions.




Selective and neutral evolution of the postcranium

My other recent research has focused on body size, body proportions and shape variation in the femur and tibia (i.e., the lower limb). Working with Dr Lia Betti (University of Roehampton) and Dr Jay Stock (University of Cambridge), our findings have revealed significant influences of not only temperature-driven natural selection on body proportions and leg bone shape, but significant effects of neutral evolutionary processes and phenotypic plasticity too.


Research Supervision

Principle Supervisor: Dr Jay Stock



I am involved in the teaching of the following courses:

  • Paper BAN1 – Humans in Biological Perspective
  • Paper BAN2 – Behavioural ecology
  • Paper BAN3 – Human origins
  • Paper BAN6 – Evolution within our species
  • Paper BAN8 – Health and disease
  • Paper NST Part 1A Evolution and behaviour


Other Professional Activities

Member of St. Catharine’s College, MCR



Associate Member of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society

Student Member of The American Association of Physical Anthropology

Student Member of the European Society for Human Evolution

Student Member of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology