French-Greek Paleontological Mission

Western Macedonia, Greece

Exploring the Early Pleistocene of the Balkans:
the Dafnero site case study, Greece

Principal investigator

Research question

Excavations at Dafnero aims to describe fauna and environments in the Balkans during the early Pleistocene, an interval contemporaneous with the first expansion of the genus Homo in Eurasia from Africa.

Some results

After several seasons of excavations, we found out many fossil mammalian remains including a nearly complete skull of Papionine (a clade of Old World monkeys including extant baboons and macaques). Besides, dental microwear textural analysis performed on ruminants indicates that even cervids integrated herbs in their diet. This study thus attests the presence of open habitats with a wealthy herbaceous layer.

Mission organization

These field work campaigns are jointly led by the Greek (School of Geology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece) and the French teams (Palevoprim, CNRS and University of Poitiers, France).


PALEVOPRIM, a CNRS grant (PICS 5182; 2009-2012) and the National Geographic Foundation (2016-2017) have supported the field campaigns and data analysis.

Iconic publications

Dimitrti S. Kostopoulos, Franck Guy, Zoi Kynigopoulou, George D. Koufos, Xavier Valentin, Gildas Merceron, 2018 – « A 2Ma old baboon-like monkey from Northern Greece and new evidence to support the Paradolichopithecus – Procynocephalus synonymy (Primates: Cercopithecidae) » – Journal fo Human Evolution:

Berlioz, É., Kostopoulos, D.S., Blondel, C., Merceron, G., 2017. Feeding ecology of Eucladoceros ctenoides as a proxy to track regional environmental variations in Europe during the early Pleistocene. Comptes Rendus Palevol 17 (4-5), 320-332.



Tél. : +33 (0)5 49 45 37 53

Guylaine REYNAUD

Tél. : +33 (0)5 49 45 37 26

Fax : +33.(0)5 49 45 40 17


Université de Poitiers – UFR SFA


Bât B35 – TSA 51106

6 rue Michel Brunet

86073 POITIERS Cedex 9