Palaeoanthropology and Primate Evolutionary Biology Research Group

Palaeoanthropology and Primate Evolutionary Biology Research Group

The Palaeoanthropology and Primate Evolutionary Biology Research Group aims to understand the behaviour of our extinct hominin relatives through examining skeletal and dental morphology. Our research takes a comparative focus, where we seek to interpret variation in the hominin fossil record through the use of extant comparative reference samples such as the great apes, gibbons and modern humans. Increasingly, the work of our group is moving towards “Virtual Palaeoanthropology”, that is, using 3D scanning methods (e.g. 3D surface scan and CT data) to quantify the morphology of extinct hominins and extant primates. We use geometric morphometric techniques to quantify morphological size and shape variation.

Katharine Balolia’s main research focus is to reconstruct aspects of social behaviour in fossil hominin taxa. In particular, she seeks to understand the relationship between sexual dimorphism in the facial skeleton and socioecological variables, and how sex-specific patterns of adulthood growth and development relate to within-group social interactions and dominance relationships and the timing of life history events observed in primate groups. Debbie Argue has a longstanding interest in uncovering the biology of Homo floresiensis and understanding its place in the human evolutionary tree. Other lab interests include understanding interpopulation variation in orangutan (Pongo sp.) anatomy, understanding the relationship between endocranial variation and brain morphology among hominids, and assessing cranial variation in the monotremes.

We are actively looking to grow our research lab and have Honours and Masters research projects available, on cranial and mandibular anatomy of extinct hominins and their closest living relatives. If you are interested in pursuing research in our lab, please contact Dr. Katharine Balolia (


Our lab has several handheld and desktop surface scanners, a 3D printer and a large hominin and extinct primate cast collection. We also have a large database of ape and modern human 3D surface scans which is available for student research projects.

Research Group members:

Dr. Katharine Balolia - Lecturer in Biological Anthropology

Dr. Debbie Argue – Visiting Fellow

Dr. Heloisa Mariath – PhD Student

Gavin Perri – PhD Student

Anton Nurcahyo – PhD Student

Alannah Pearson – PhD Student

Emma Doherty – Masters Student

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Updated:  13 November 2018/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications