Dr Katharine Balolia

BSc., MSc, MSc, PhD
Senior Lecturer in Biological Anthropology
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: +61 (0) 2 6125 9298

Areas of expertise

  • Biological (Physical) Anthropology 440103
  • Biological Adaptation 060303
  • Phylogeny And Comparative Analysis 060309
  • Animal Systematics And Taxonomy 310401

Research interests

Sexual dimorphism; evolution of hominin social behaviour; primate taxonomy; cranial anatomy; 3D surface scanning; geometric morphometrics



I undertook my PhD research at University College London (2006 – 2014), firstly under the supervision of Dr. Charles Lockwood and subsequently working with Dr. Christophe Soligo. The title of my PhD thesis is ‘Sexual dimorphism, growth and development beyond dental maturity in the cranium of extant hominoid primates’. I then completed a 2 year postdoctoral position as Research Associate in Human Evolutionary Biology (2014 - 2016), working as part of the Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology (CASHP) at the George Washington University (GWU), under the supervision of Dr. Bernard Wood. My current role is Lecturer in Biological Anthropology in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at The Australian National University.


Researcher's projects

I am a biological anthropologist, fascinated by how differing social structures and mating behaviours shape variation in the primate skeleton. My work predominantly takes a comparative primate evolutionary biology approach to understanding how patterns of skeletal variation among extant (living) primates are associated with aspects of their ecology and behaviour. Using 3D methods to quantify skeletal morphology, I seek to understand the underlying causes of patterns of variation in extant primate skeletal assemblages, including the craniodental correlates of social behaviour among non-human primates. The overall aim of this research is to elucidate whether robust enough relationships exist to apply findings to extinct human ancestors to reconstruct aspects of their social behaviour. My second research stream seeks to understand whether advanced 3D shape quantification methods can be applied to the skull to distinguish between extant primate species. The aim of this research is to ascertain the number of species present, and the level of taxonomic diversity, in fossil primate and extinct human assemblages.


Available student projects

Our lab has a large hominin and extinct primate cast collection and a large database of hominid 3D surface scans which is available for research projects. If you are interested in pursuing Honours, Masters or PhD research under the topics of primate and extinct hominin evolution under my supervision please feel free to get in touch with me.


Past student projects

Kieran Baughan (Masters Project) - Thesis title: Using 3D geometric morphometrics to assess the relationship between primate mandible shape and diet (Degree Awarded 2021).

Hannah Hooge (Honours Project) - Thesis title: Assessing the mastication hypothesis in Gorilla and Pongo: Sagittal cresting and its association with mandibular morphology (Degree Awarded 2021)

Annie Backshall (Masters Project) – Thesis title: Hard to Palate: Newly identified macromorphoscopic traits of the palatine bone and their relationship to ancestry (Degree Awarded 2019)

Emma Doherty (Masters Project) – Thesis title: Geographic variation in Macaca: Implications for understanding craniofacial variation in Homo erectus (Degree Awarded 2018)

Preliminary evidence that female chimpanzees have either large canines or wide faces (Masters research project)

Latitudinal effect of morphological variation in Homo erectus and the genus Macaca: A comparative review (Masters research project)

Geometric morphometric analyses of cranial morphology in capuchin monkeys at the genus and species level (Undergraduate research project)

Identifying Hylobatidae taxa through cranial size and shape (Undergraduate research project)

Geometric morphometric analyses of cranial morphology in capuchin monkeys at the genus and species level (Undergraduate research project)

Craniometric Variation in Howler Monkeys: An Investigation into Sexual Dimorphism and Growth Beyond Dental Maturity (Undergraduate research project)

Sex estimation in extant hominoids using craniofacial measurements (Undergraduate research project)

Mandibular size variation in Mid-Pleistocene Homo, Homo naledi, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens (Undergraduate research project)

The relationship between canine crown height dimorphism and facial breadth dimorphism in howler monkeys (Undergraduate research project)

Can patterns of mandibular shape variation in extant hominoid taxa be used to assign taxonomic status to early Homo mandibles? (Undergraduate research project)

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Updated:  25 July 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers