NYCEP Alumnus Profile

Karen Baab

Assistant Professor Department of Anatomy Midwestern University - Glendale, AZ


B.A. 2000, Muhlenberg College M.A. 2003, Hunter College Ph.D. 2007, City University of New York




Overview of Research

Karen Baab is a biological anthropologist with broad interests in human evolution and the evolution of the primate skull. Much of her research has focused on identifying patterns of temporal and spatial variation in the hominin skull, particularly Homo erectus. This is the first human ancestor documented outside of the African continent, nearly 1.8 million years ago. Homo erectus represents a geographically widespread species found in Africa, Eurasia, and island Southeast Asia whose fossil record spans nearly two million years.

She uses 3D geometric morphometrics to quantify the shape of the skull and to explore evolutionary change in both size and shape. Using geometric morphometric techniques, she has explored the relationship between cranial size and shape (allometry) and its implications for Homo floresiensis ("the Hobbit"). She has also documented a relationship between the shape of the cranium and the expression of cranial robusticity in a global sample of modern humans. Ongoing work includes the investigation of phylogeny, size, and diet in shaping the lemuriform skull, including the giant subfossil species.


Baab, K.L. (2015) Defining Homo erectus. Henke, W. and Tattersall, I. (Eds.). Handbook of Paleoanthropology. New York: Springer, pp. 2189-2219. *Invited*

Baab, K.L.(2014) Phylogenetic, ecological, and allometric correlates of cranial shape in Malagasy lemuriforms. Evolution. 68: 1450–1468.

Baab, K.L., McNulty, K.P., and Harvati, K. 2013. Homo floresiensis contextualized: A geometric morphometric comparative analysis of fossil and pathological human samples. PLoS ONE. 8(7): e69119. 

Baab, K.L., McNulty, K.P., and Rohlf, F.J. 2012. The shape of human evolution: A geometric morphometrics perspective. Evolutionary Anthropology. 21: 151-165. 

McNulty, K.P. and Baab, K.L. 2010. Keeping asymmetry in perspective: A reply to Eckhardt and Henneberg. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 143: 337-339. 

Jungers, W. and Baab, K. 2010. The geometry of hobbits: Homo floresiensis and human evolution. Significance. 6: 159-194.

Baab, K.L., Freidline, S.E., Wang, S.L., and Hanson, T. 2010. Relationship of cranial robusticity to cranial form, geography and climate in Homo sapiens. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 141: 97-115.

Baab, K.L. and McNulty, K.P. 2009. Size, shape, and asymmetry in fossil hominins: The status of the LB1 cranium based on 3D morphometric analyses. Journal of Human Evolution. 57: 608-622.

Baab, K.L. 2008. A re-evaluation of the taxonomic affinities of the early Homo cranium KNM-ER 42700. Journal of Human Evolution. 55: 741-746.

Baab, K.L. 2008. The taxonomic implications of cranial shape variation in Homo erectus. Journal of Human Evolution. 54: 827-847.