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Professor Dr Nikolai Spassov, director of the National Museum of Natural History, Sofia. Photo: (c) N. Spassov
Professor Dr Nikolai Spassov, director of the National Museum of Natural History, Sofia. Photo: (c) N. Spassov

Nikolai Spassov

(Professor Dr)
phone: (+359 02) 9808391; (+359 2) 9885116 (ext. 728); e-mail:

Born: 7 April 1951, Sofia.
Education: Sofia University ‘St. Kliment Ohridski’, Faculty of Biology (1974).
Speciality: vertebrate zoology.

Research interests


More than 170 scientific papers in the field of palaeontology, taxonomy and morphology of large mammals (Macromammalia), evolution of the terrestrial megafaunas, archaeozoology, evolution of the behaviour of vertebrates, ecology of carnivores, conservation of vertebrates.

Current projects


2008—2009. Coordinación de estudios sobre las primeras ocupaciones humanas en Eurasia: Intercambios científicos Bulgaria-España Ministerio de Education Y Ciencia. España. Leading institution: CENIEH, Burgos.
Elaboration of the second edition of the Red data Book of Bulgaria, vol. ‘Animals’ (In press). A project of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences supported by the Ministry of the Environment.
2008 and continues: Search for the Earliest Human Prehistory: Paleontological Investigations in the Locality of the Last Prehuman Hominoids in Europe (Azmaka near Chirpan, Bulgaria, Turolian). Granted by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Additional grants by L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, the Fyssen Foundation and the University of Tübingen.
From 2008 and continues: Member of the working team for the creation of the Natinal Action plan for the wolf in Bulgaria. Project of Balkani Society supported by the Ministry of the Environment.
From 2008 and continues: Team leader of the large mammals group in the project: Development of the Natura 2000 Network in Bulgaria. A project of the Bularian Academy of Sciences, supported by the Ministry of the Environment.
From 2010: Molecular analysis of ancient dogs: A critical re-assessment of their ancestry and their co-evolution with humans. Leading institution: Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago.

Most recent publications


Spassov, N., Iliev, N., Hristova, L., Ivanov, V., 2018. Typology of Thracian horses according to osteological analysis of skeletal remains and depictions from the antiquity. — Historia naturalis bulgarica, 28: 15—24.

Spassov, N., Hristova, L., Iliev, N., 2018. The domesticated horses from the submerged prehistoric village of Urdoviza (Kiten) on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast — among the oldest known. — Historia naturalis bugarica, 25: 11—14.

Spassov, N., Hristova, L., 2018. Early Ursus etruscus Cuvier from the Middle Villafranchian carst cavern locality of Varshets (Bulgaria). — 24th International Cave Bear Symposium 2018, Chepelare, 27—30.09.2018.

Spassov, N., Geraads, D., Hristova, L., Markov, G., Garevska, B., Garevski, R., 2018. The late Miocene mammal faunas of the Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). — Palaeontographica A., 311(1—6): 1—85.

Gurova, M., Ivanova, S., Marinova, E., V., Spassov, N., Hristova, L., Verheyden, S., Burlet, C., 2018. Excavations at Mishin Kamik Cave: fifth season. — Archaeological Discoveries and Excavations in 2017, National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences,8—11.

Dzhebir, G., Yordanov, G., Yankova, I., Sirakova, D., Petrova, M., Neov, B., Hristov, P., Radoslavov, G., Hristova, L., Spassov, N., 2018. Comparative genetic analysis of modern and ancient horses from the Neolithic age in Bulgaria. — Historia naturalis bugarica, 28: 3—10.

Spassov, N., Hristova, L., Ivanova, S., Georgiev, I., 2017. First Record of the ‘Small Cave Bear’ in Bulgaria and taxonomic status of the bears of the Ursus savini Andrews — Ursus rossicus Borissiak group. — Fossil Imprint, 73 (3—4): 275—291.

Gurova, M., Ivanova, S., Spassov, N., Hristova, L., Popov, V., Marinova, E., Böhme, M., 2017. Excavations at Mishin Kamik Cave: fourth season. 2016 season. — Archaeological Discoveries and Excavations in 2016, National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 48—50.

Böhme, M., Spassov, N., Ebner, M., Geraads, D., Hristova, L., Kirscher, U., Kötter, S., Linnemann, U., Prieto, J., Roussiakis, S., Theodorou, G., Uhlig, G., Winklhofer, M., 2017. Messinian Age and savanna environment of the possible hominin Graecopithecus from SE Europe. — PLoS One, 12 (5): e0177347. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0177347

Böhme, M., Spassov, N., Ebner, M., Geraads, D., Hristova, L., Kirscher, U., Kötter, S., Linnemann, U., Prieto, J., Roussiakis, S., Theodorou, G., Uhlig, G., Winklhofer, M., 2017. Environment and stratigraphy of the classical Pikermi sites and post-Pikermian localities and the first, Late Miocene, Sahara desertification. — 15th Congress of the R.C.M.N.S. ‘Exploring a physical laboratory: the Mediterranean Basin’, 3—6 September 2017, Athens, Abstracs, p. 31.


More complete list of publications — section e-Natura | Staff publications