The PI : Gildas Merceron

Contact :

Dr. Gildas Merceron is paleontologist. He has been involved in the study of paleo-ecology of mammals that lived in Old World from 20 millions years ago. The methods he uses are mammal anatomy (to decipher the mode of locomotion of these mammals), stable isotope geochemistry and dental microwear textural analysis (to track the type of diets eaten by these mammals). G. Merceron obtained his PhD in Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Poitiers, France. After several post doc in the USA, Germany and Austria, G. Merceron got a tenure position as CNRS researcher at the University of Lyon in 2008. Since, G. Merceron is at the IPHEP lab at the University of Poitiers where he is piloting the TRIDENT (Dental Tribology) project funded by the French National Agency for Research.

The team


Cécile Blondel obtained her PhD in Geology and Paleontology at the University of Montpellier II, France in 1996. She became assistant professor at the University of Poitiers, France in 1999. Her research focuses on the phylogeny, i.e. the development or evolution, of Bovidae during the Mio-Pliocene of Africa. She is also actively involved in the reconstruction of paleo-environments of early hominids using dental wear analysis on specimens of both ungulates and primates.


Dr. Jean-Renaud Boisserie is a CNRS paleontologist who studies the evolution of large African mammals (notably hippos, pigs, and humans) during the last 40 million years. He focuses on comparative anatomy and phylogenetic approaches to reconstruct the past biodiversity and the evolutionary relationships between species. He also leads paleoecological and paleobiogeographical studies for understanding the biology and distribution of extinct species. In 2006, he initiated the Omo Group Research Expedition, a multidisciplinary research program exploring the interrelationships between environmental changes and biological evolution (including that of human ancestors) between 3 Ma and 1 Ma in the Lower Omo Valley (Shungura Formation, Ethiopia). The OGRE involves ca. 25 paleontologists, archeologists, and geologists from various countries (Ethiopia, France, USA, Germany, and others). The dietary reconstruction of various Shungura fossil species is performed within the framework of TRIDENT.

Noël Brunetière

Noël Brunetière is a forty-two years old researcher in mechanical engineering. He is working in the field of tribology and more particularly on mechanical seals at the Pprime Institute of Poitiers (France) since 1997. He received his PhD degree from the University of Poitiers, in the field of mechanics in 2001. He became professor assistant in mechanical engineering at the University of Poitiers in 2002. He holds now a position of researcher at the CNRS (French research council). His main research topics concern surface analysis and modelling, lubrication of rough surfaces and fluid solid interaction in lubricated contacts.

Arthur Francisco

Arthur Francisco is not a historian as the picture suggests; he is just fond of the Murol Castel (

He is Assistant Professor at the University of Poitiers since 2003 and teaches Production Management. Dr. Francisco’s primary research area focuses on lubricated contacts – from hertzian located contacts to more conformal contacts – and more recently, on the surface roughness influence. The use of exploratory statistics is a new means in his research, to explain phenomena for which descriptive statistics fail.

Denis Gautier

Denis Gautier is an engineer in agronomy. He got his Masters degree at the Supagro Montpellier Engineering School. For two decades, Denis Gautier has been involved in and has al so been heading several national and European projects at the Institut de l’Elevage (Breeding Institute). These projects deal with diet, reproduction, genetics, animal well-being, pasture management…

Since 2013, Denis Gautier is the head of the Centre Interrégional d’Information et de Recherche en Production Ovine (CIIRPO) base in Haute-Vienne as well as the Mourier Experimental Farm Station (Institut de l’Elevage). In the frame of the TRIDENT project, he has coordinated the controlled food trials taking into account the well-being of every single ewe.

Anusha Ramdarshan

Anusha explores how mammals responded in the past to long-term changes in environment, available resources and competition between different species. She specifically works on the reconstruction of dietary behaviors through dental microwear analysis. Anusha has been working for a year on the TRIDENT project, developing dietary reconstruction models using 3D dental microwear analysis on a dataset resulting from controlled-food testing on domestic sheep. This work will help us characterize how microwear is formed, and further our understanding of the feeding behavior of extant and fossil herbivores.


Emilie Berlioz is a PhD student in Paleontology at the IPHEP lab, in Poitiers, France.

Her research focuses on the Dental Microwear Texture Analysis (DMTA) of extant and extinct European cervids. The aim of her work is twofold:

  • Over a first phase, to explore the feeding ecology of extant cervid populations living in contrasting habitats to better understand the plasticity of the diet of deer in link with the vegetal resource availability around the year, the physiological requirements of both sexes and the cohabitation with the rest of the animal community in their environment.
  • In a second phase, to better understand the dietary preferences, the niche-partitioning and to characterize the paleoenvironments of the early Pleistocene European deer, in the context of the Homo dispersal in Europe.