I am a biological anthropologist who studies human evolution. My main research interests include the study of hominin (humans and the extinct relatives) taxonomy and phylogeny using cranial morphology, the application of geometric morphometrics to study skeletal variation, and the evolutionary history of Plio-Pleistocene Homo.
I am currently a postdoc / lecturer in the Department of Anatomical Sciences at Stony Brook University. In September 2010 I am excited to join the faculty of the Department of Anthropology, also here at Stony Brook University, in the position of Assistant Professor. I earned my Ph.D. in anthropology at the City University of New York (part of the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology) in 2007.
Click here for CV (updated 04.19.2010).
Homo erectus is an extinct species of early human that populated Africa, Eurasia, and Asia throughout most of the Pleistocene epoch. Homo erectus was the first species to migrate out of Africa and exhibited considerable size variation throughout its geographic range. My research focuses on the taxonomy and evolutionary history of this key hominin species by quantifying, describing, and analyzing the shape of the skull using 3D geometric morphometric techniques.
My interest in Homo erectus has also led to a series of studies of the famous "Hobbits" of Flores, Indonesia. This work compared the shape of the LB1 skull to a large comparative sample of modern humans (including small bodied populations), fossil hominins, and apes. These analyses explicitly consider the scaling relationship between size and shape. More recent analysis (presented at the 2010 American Association of Physical Anthropologists meetings) investigated the relationship of LB1 to modern humans suffering from certain pathological conditions that have been hypothesized to explain the presence of this group on the island of Flores. My results consistently support the hypothesis that Homo floresiensis is a late-surviving species whose strongest affinities lie with early Homo.
With Dr. William Jungers (Stony Brook University), Dr. James Rohlf (Stony Brook University) and Dr. Jonathan Perry (Midwestern University), I am examining skull form and function in extant and subfossil lemurs from Madagascar using a combination of traditional linear and 3D geometric morphometrics.
Peer Reviewed Publications
Baab, K.L. 2008. The taxonomic implications of cranial shape variation in Homo erectus. Journal of Human Evolution. 54: 827-847. Download pdf.
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. Download pdf.
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. Download pdf.
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. Download pdf.
McNulty, K.P. and Baab, K.L. 2010. Keeping asymmetry in perspective: A reply to Eckhardt and Henneberg. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Currently in Early View. Download pdf.
Invited Articles / Presentations
Jungers, W. and Baab, K. 2010. The geometry of hobbits: Homo floresiensis and human evolution. Significance. 6: 159-194. Download pdf.
Presented "The application of statistics in addressing the position of Homo floresiensis in human evolution" at the Joint Statistical Meetings on August 1, 2010.
Popular Media Coverage of "Hobbit" Study
The American Museum of Natural History did a Human Bulletin piece that featured our research and a video is currently featured in the Hall of Human Origins (through Feb. 6, 2009). Navigate directly to the AMNH webpage.
Several on-line news outlets also covered this story, including USA Today, National Geographic, the Guardian (UK), and ScienceDaily. Elizabeth Culotta also mentions the Significance piece in the Science "Origins" blog.
Courses Currently Offered
(Stony Brook University, Department of Anthropology)
ANP 403 - Hominins in the Headlines