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Professor Dr Nikolai Spassov. Photo: (c) N. Spassov
Professor Dr Nikolai Spassov. 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

Karastoyanova, N., Gorczyk, J., Spassov, N., 2020. The natural history of the fallow deer, Dama dama (Linnaeus, 1758) in Bulgaria in prehistory and new evidence for the existence of an autochthonous Holocene population in the Balkans. — Intеrnational Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 30 (5): 616—628. doi:10.1002/oa.2886

Yankova, I., Marinov, M., Neov, B., Petrova, M., Spassov, N., Hristov, P., Radoslavov, G., 2019. Evidence for Early European Neolithic Dog Dispersal: New Data on Southeastern European Subfossil Dogs from the Prehistoric and Antiquity Ages. — Genes, 10 (10): 757. doi:10.3390/genes10100757

Spassov, N., Geraads, D., Hristova, L., Markov, G. N., 2019. The Late Miocene (Turolian) mammal fauna from Gorna Sushitsa, Southwestern Bulgaria. — Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, 291 (3): 317—350.

Spassov, N., Acosta-Pankov, I., 2019. Dispersal history of the golden jackal (Canis aureus moreoticus Geoffroy, 1835) in Europe and possible causes of its recent population explosion. — Biodiversity Data Journal, 7: e34825. doi:10.3897/BDJ.7.e34825

Nishita, Y., Spassov, N., Peeva, S., Raichev, E. G., Kaneko, Y., Masuda, R., 2019. Genetic diversity of MHC class II DRB alleles in the marbled polecat, Vormela peregusna, in Bulgaria. — Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 31 (1): 59—72. doi:10.1080/03949370.2018.1486887

Ersmark, E., Baryshnikov, G., Higham, T., Argant, A., Castaños, P., Döppes, D., Gasparik, M., Germonpré, M., Lidén, K., Lipecki, G., Marciszak, A., Miller, R., Moreno‐García, M., Pacher, M., Robu, M., Rodriguez-Manuel Rojo Guerra, R., Sabol, M., Spassov, N., Storå, J., Valdiosera, C., Villaluenga, A., Stewart, J. R., Dalén, L., 2019. Genetic turnovers and northern survival during the last glacial maximum in European brown bears. — Ecology and Evolution, 9 (10): 5891—5905. doi:10.1002/ece3.5172

Böhme, M., Spassov, N., Fuss, J., Tröscher, A., Deane, A. S., Prieto, J., Kirscher, U., Lechner, T., Begun, D. R., 2019. A new Miocene ape and locomotion in the ancestor of great apes and humans. — Nature. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1731-0

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, 25: 15—24. [PDF] doi:10.5281/zenodo.4043992

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 bulgarica, 25: 11—14. [PDF] doi:10.5281/zenodo.4043978

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.

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