Associate Professor Deano Stynder

Head of the Department of Archaeology

Deano Stynder is an Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology, University of Cape Town.  He received his PhD from the University of Cape Town in 2006 and took up his post at UCT in 2010.

Stynder’s research focuses on understanding the ecological and climatic conditions under which our hominin ancestors evolved. Key to the reconstruction of these are the diets of fossil animal taxa. Ungulates, which have restricted diets, are particularly good indicators of past vegetation cover (and by extension, climatic conditions), and are therefore a focus of his and his graduate students’ research.

Extensive use is made of ecomorphology, an analytical approach that uses functional morphology to inform on the preferred habitats of fossil taxa. Analytical methods that elucidate aspects of dietary behaviour, such as dental mesowear and microwear, are also widely employed.

In addition to laboratory analyses, Stynder and his research group are extensively involved in fieldwork and the recovery of new fossil material.

Archaeology Dept, Beattie Building, Room 3.15
Fax: +27 (0)21 650 2352
Google Scholar:
My Citations (Google Scholar) profile

Courses lectured

  • AGE2011S - Human Evolution
  • AGE4000W - Archaeology Honours

Course Convener

  • AGE1004S - Introduction to Earth & Environmental Sciences
  • AGE3013H – Archaeology in Practice


Braun, D. R., Faith, J. T., Douglass, M., J., Davies, B., Power, M., J., Vera, A., Conard, N., Russell, C., DeSantis, L. R. G., Dupont, L., Esteban, I., Kandel, A. W., Levin, N. E., Luyt, J., Parkington, J., Pickering, R., Quick, L., Sealy, J., Stynder, D. (2021). “Ecosystem Engineering in the Quaternary of the West Coast of South Africa.”. Evolutionary Anthropology. (Impact factor: 3.44)

Faith, J. T., Braun, D. R., Davies, B., DeSantis, L. R. G., Douglass, M. J., Esteban, I., Hare, V., Levin, N. E., Luyt, J., Pickering, R., Power, M., Sealy, J., Stynder, D. (2020). “Econometrics and the paleoecological implications of Pleistocene faunas from the western coastal plains of the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa.” Journal of Quaternary Science 35, 1007 – 1020. (Impact factor: 2.38)

Schmidt, P., Stynder, D., Conard, N. J., Parkington, J. E. (2020). “When was silcrete heat treatment invented in South Africa?” Palgrave Communications 6, 1-10. (Impact factor: 1.65)

Groenewald, P., A., Sealy, J., Stynder, D., Smith, K. M. (2020). “Dietary resource partitioning among three coeval proboscidean taxa (Anancus capensis, Mammuthus subplanifrons, Loxodonta cookei) from the South African Early Pliocene locality of Langebaanweg E Quarry. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 543, 109606. (Impact factor: 2.83)

Stynder, D. D., DeSantis, L., Donohue, S., Schubert, B., Ungar, P. (2018). “A dental microwear texture analysis of the early Pliocene African ursid Agriotherium africanum (Mammalia, Carnivora, Ursidae)". Journal of Mammalian Evolution 26, 1-11. (Impact factor: 2.5)

Lehmann, S. B., Levin, N. E., Braun, D. R., Stynder, D. D., Zhu, M., le Roux, P. J., Sealy J. (2018). “Environmental and ecological implications of strontium isotope ratios in mid-Pleistocene fossil teeth from Elandsfontein, South Africa.” Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 490, 84-94. (Impact factor: 2.83)

Forrest, F. L., Stynder, D. D., Bishop, L. C., Levin, N. E., Lehmann, S. B., Patterson, D. B., Matthews, T., Braun, D. R. (2018). “Zooarchaeological reconstruction of newly excavated Middle Pleistocene deposits from Elandsfontein, South Africa.” Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 17, 19-29. (Impact factor: 1.58)

Lehmann, S. B., Braun, D. R., Dennis, K. J., Patterson, D. B., Stynder, D. D., Bishop, L. C., Forrest, F. and Levin, N. E. (2016). “Stable isotope composition of fossil mammal teeth and environmental change in southwestern South Africa during the Pliocene and Pleistocene”. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 457, 396-408. (Impact factor: 2.83)

Patterson, D. B., Lehmann, S. B., Matthews, T., Levin, N. E., Stynder, D. D., Bishop, L. C., Braun, D. R. (2016). Stable isotope ecology of Cape dune mole-rats (Bathyergus suillus) from Elandsfontein, South Africa: Implications for C4 vegetation and hominin paleobiology in the Cape Floral Region. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 457, 408-421. (Impact factor: 2.83)

Smith, K. M. and Stynder, D. D. (2015). Biogeography and molar morphology of Pleistocene African elephants: new evidence from Elandsfontein, Western Cape Province, South Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews 115: 101-111. (Impact factor: 3.80)

Dollion, A. Y., Cornette R., Tolley, K. A., Boistel, R., Euriat, A., Boller, E., Fernandez, V., Stynder, D., Herrel, A. (2015). Morphometric analysis of chameleon fossil fragments from the Early Pliocene of South Africa: a new piece of the chamaeleonid history. Naturwissenschaften 102: 2. (Impact factor: 2.098)

Braun, D., Levin, N. E., Stynder, D., Herries, A. I., Archer, W., Forrest, F. L., Roberts, D. L., Bishop, L. C., Mathews, T., Lehmann, S. B., Pickering, R. and Fitzsimmons, K. (2013). Mid-Pleistocene Hominin Occupation at Elandsfontein, Western Cape, South Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews 82: 145-166. (Impact factor: 3.80)

Hartstone-Rose, A. and Stynder, D. D. (2013). Hypercarnivory, durophagy or generalized carnivory in the Mio-Pliocene Hyaenids and Felids of South Africa? South African Journal of Science 109: 1-10. (Impact factor: 1.19)

Stynder, D. D. and Kupczik, K. (2013). Tooth root morphology in the Early Pliocene African bear Agriotherium africanum (Mammalia, Carnivora. Ursidae) and its implications for feeding ecology. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 20: 227-237. (Impact factor: 2.5)

Stynder, D. D., Ungar, P. S., Scott, J. R. and Schubert, B. W. (2012). A dental microwear texture analysis of the Mio-Pliocene hyaenids from Langebaanweg, South Africa. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 57: 485-496. (Impact factor: 1.68)

Kurki, H. K., Pfeiffer, S. and Stynder, D. D. (2012). Allometry of head and body size in Holocene foragers of the South African Cape. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 147: 462-471. (Impact factor: 2.41)

Oldfield, C. C., McHenry, C. R., Clausen, P.D., Chamoli, U., Parr, W.C.H., Stynder, D. D. and Wroe, S. (2012). Finite Element Analysis of ursid cranial mechanics and the prediction of feeding behaviour in the extinct giant Agriotherium africanumJournal of Zoology 286: 163-170. (Impact factor: 1.72)

Kupczik, K. and Stynder, D. D. (2012). Tooth root morphology as an indicator for dietary specialisation in carnivores (Mammalia: Carnivore). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 105: 456-471. (Impact factor: 2.82)

Stynder, D. D. (2011). Fossil bovid diets indicate a scarcity of grass in the Langebaanweg ‘E’ Quarry (South Africa) late Miocene/early Pliocene environment. Paleobiology 37(1): 126-139. (Impact factor: 1.95)

Tseng, Z. J. and Stynder, D. D. (2011). Mosaic functionality in a transitional ecomorphology: skull biomechanics in stem Hyaeninae compared to modern South African carnivorans. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 102: 540-559. (Impact factor: 2.82)

Matthews, T. and Stynder, D. D. (2011). An analysis of the Aethomys (Murinae) community from Langebaanweg (Early Pliocene, South Africa) using geometric morphometrics. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 302: 230-242. (Impact factor: 2.83)

Matthews, T. and Stynder, D. D. (2011). An analysis of two Myosorex species (Soricidae) from the Early Pliocene site of Langebaanweg (West coast, South Africa) using geometric morphometrics, linear measurements, and non-metric characters. Geobios 44: 87-99. (Impact Factor: 1.197)

Ungar, P. S., Scott, J. R., Schubert, B. W. and Stynder, D. D. (2010). Carnivore dental microwear textures: comparability of carnassial facets and functional differentiation of the postcanine teeth. Mammalia 74: 219-224. (Impact Factor: 0.68)

Stynder, D. D., Braga, J. and Crubézy, E. (2009). Craniometric evidence for biological continuity between Meroitic and post-Meroitic populations buried at the necropolis of Missiminia, Middle Nubia. South African Archaeological Bulletin 64: 122-129(Impact Factor: 0.35)

Stynder, D. D. (2009). Tooth crown form as an indicator of niche partitioning in late Miocene/early Pliocene hyenas from ‘E’ Quarry, Langebaanweg, South Africa. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 283: 148-159. (Impact factor: 2.83)

Rossouw, L., Stynder, D. and Haarhof, P. (2009). Evidence for opal phytolith preservation in the Langebaanweg ‘E’ Quarry Varswater Formation and its potential for palaeohabitat reconstruction. South African Journal of Science 105: 223-227. (Impact Factor: 1.19)

Stynder, D. D, Brock, F., Sealy, J. C., Morris, A. G., Wurz, S. and Volman, T. P. (2009). A mid-Holocene AMS 14C date for the presumed Late Pleistocene Peers Cave human skeleton from South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution 56: 431-434. (Impact Factor: 3.53)

Stynder, D. D. (2009). South African Later Stone Age herders and hunter-gatherers were a single biological population. Journal of Archaeological Science 36: 798-806. (Impact Factor: 2.79)

Stynder, D. D. (2009). The diets of ungulates from the hominid fossil-bearing site of Elandsfontein, Western Cape, South Africa. Quaternary Research 71: 62-70. (Impact Factor: 2.31)

Stynder, D. D. (2008). The impact of medium-sized canids on a seal bone assemblage from Duinfield Midden, west coast, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin 63: 159-163. (Impact Factor: 0.35)

Stynder, D. D., Ackermann, R. and Sealy, J. (2007). Early to mid-Holocene South African Later Stone Age human crania exhibit a distinctly Khoesan morphological pattern. South African Journal of Science 103: 349-352. (Impact Factor: 1.19)

Stynder, D. D., Ackermann, R. and Sealy, J. (2007). Craniofacial variation and population continuity during the South African Holocene. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 134: 489-500. (Impact factor: 2.41)

Stynder, D. D. and Yates, R. (2006). A rare example of a human burial with a stone packed grave shaft in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin 61: 202-207. (Impact Factor: 0.35)

Morris, A.G., Dlamini, N., Parker, J., Powrie, C., Ribot, I. and Stynder, D. (2004/2005). Later Stone Age burials from the Western Cape Province, South Africa, Part 1: Voëvlei. Southern African Field Archaeology 13 & 14: 19-26.  

Marean, C. W., Nilssen, P. J., Brown, K., Jerardino, A. and Stynder, D. (2004). Paleoanthropological Investigations of Middle Stone Age Sites at Pinnacle Point Mossel Bay (South Africa): Archaeology and Hominid remains from the 2000 Field Season. PaleoAnthropology 1: 14-83

Stynder, D. D., Moggi-Cecchi, J., Berger, L. R. and Parkington, J. E. (2001). Human mandibular incisors from the Late Middle Pleistocene locality of Hoedjiespunt 1, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution 41: 369-383. (Impact Factor: 3.53)

Churchill, S. E., Brink, J. S., Berger, L. R., Hutchison, R. A., Rossouw, L., Stynder, D., Hancox, P. J., Brandt, D., Woodborne, S., Loock, J. C., Scott, L., and Ungar, P. (2000). Erfkroon: a new Florisian fossil locality from fluvial contexts in the western Free State, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 96: 161-163. (Impact Factor: 1.19)

Sections in Books:

Stynder, D. (2008). Les Khoï-San: Données historiques et origines. Anthropobiologie : évolution humaine. Crubézy, E., Braga, J. et Larrouy, G. (eds.). p. 292. Elsevier Masson : Cedex

Braun, D. R., Levin, N. E., Roberts, D., Stynder, D., Forrest, F., Herries, A. I., Matthews, T., Bishop, L., Archer, W. and Pickering, R. (2013). Initial investigations of Acheulean hominin behaviour at Elandsfontein. The archaeology of the west coast of South Africa. Jerardino, A., Malan, A. and Braun, D. (eds.). Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 84. Pp. 10 – 23. Archaeopress: Oxford. (Citations = 4)