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Philipp Gunz

Senior Scientist (W2) - Research Group Leader

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Human Evolution
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

phone: 0049 (0) 341 3550 853
fax: 0049 (0) 341 3550 399
e-mail: gunzeva.mpgde

Download CV and list of publications [pdf]

Research Interests
Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

Dr. Philipp Gunz is a biological anthropologist with a primary research interest in paleoanthropology, who works as a Research Fellow at the Department of Human Evolution.

He studies developmental and evolutionary changes in the growth patterns and morphology of fossil hominins, extant humans and non-human primates. Philipp works both in the area of «virtual paleoanthropology» where he applies computer modelling techniques to reconstruct partial and damaged fossils for further analysis, and in the application of statistical methods to analyze shapes of fossil and living primates (geometric morphometrics).

His research focuses on the application of geometric morphometrics to quantify large scale evolutionary changes in the craniofacial and endocranial growth pattern of great apes and australopithecines, morphological integration in modern humans and Neanderthals, craniofacial variability in early Homo, and subtle shape differences among teeth. Together with Philipp Mitteroecker from the University of Vienna he has developed new techniques to measure and compare curve and surface information from biological forms (“semilandmarks”).

He obtained his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Vienna, Austria in 2005.  The dissertation research involved the virtual reconstruction of broken and incomplete fossil crania using computer tomographic data. He developed the theoretical framework and the necessary algorithms and software to correct taphonomic distortions and estimate missing parts, aiming to make the reconstruction process as transparent and reproducible as possible. 

An up-to-date list of manuscripts can also be found on Google Scholar

Curriculum Vitae

Personal Information

Date/place of birth:7th October 1975, Linz

Research Brief

I am a biological anthropologist with a primary research interest in palaeoanthropology. I study the evolution of developmental patterns. My aim is to understand what makes us human by comparing our own species with our closest living and fossil relatives. As fossils are usually found broken into many pieces, and only partially complete, a central topic of my work is the virtual reconstruction of fossils using computed tomographic scans. I am a specialist for fossil reconstruction, and the statistical analysis of shape — a set of methods called «geometric morphometrics».

My publications explore different aspects of ontogenetic and phylogenetic shape changes — in particular the evolution and development of the brain and the imprint it leaves in the bony braincase. Alteration of endocranial shape in the hominin lineage is likely to reflect evolutionary changes in the organisation of structures of the human brain. However, brain tissue doesn’t fossilize, so the underlying biology has remained elusive. My research addresses this challenging question through an interdisciplinary approach that brings together analysis of fossil skulls, ancient genomes, brain imaging and gene expression.

Current Academic Positions

Since 2015Senior Scientist (W2) - Research Group Leader
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology,
Leipzig, Germany.
Since 2019Fellow of the Max Planck School of Cognition
Since 2017Extended Faculty
KLI Institute for the Advanced Study of Natural Complex Systems
Since 2017Affiliated Researcher
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen
The Netherlands.
Since 2001Lecturer,
Department of Anthropology, University of Vienna


2013Habilitation at the Dept. of Anthropology,
University of Vienna, Austria.
Thesis title: Evolution & Development of the hominin skull.
2005 Ph.D. (doctor rerum naturalium) at the Department of Anthropology,
University of Vienna, Austria (with honors).
Thesis title: Statistical and geometric reconstruction of hominid crania: reconstructing australopithecine ontogeny,
supervised by G.W. Weber, F.L. Bookstein and H. Seidler.
2001Master’s Degree (Mag. rer. nat.) in Anthropology
at the Institute for Human Biology (now Dept. of Anthropology), University of Vienna, Austria (with honors).
Thesis title: Using Semilandmarks on surfaces and curves in three dimensions to model human neurocranial shape,
supervised by H. Seidler and F.L. Bookstein.

Past Academic Positions

2011–2017Associate Professor (Status-Only Appointment),
Department of Anthropology; University of Toronto
2007–2015Research Fellow,
Department of Human Evolution,
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology,
Leipzig, Germany.
2005–2007Postdoctoral Marie Curie Fellow
at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology,
Department of Human Evolution,
Leipzig, Germany.
2005Post-Doc Stipend
at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology,
Department of Human Evolution,
Leipzig, Germany.
2004–2005Ph.D. research fellowship
funded by a grant of the Ministry of Culture Science & Education Austria,
and the Austrian Council for Science and Technology.
2001–2004Ph.D. research fellowship
funded by the project «Parameterised reference models forhominoid skulls»,
the Austrian Science Foundation (FWF).

Academic Awards & Recognitions

2014ISI Higly Cited Researcher Thompson Reuters Essential Science Indicators (http://highlycited.com)
2006 Poster prize,
150 years of Neanderthal discoveries conference,
2000Student prize for best oral presentation,
European Anthropological Association,

Research Grants

Since 2019Evolution of Hominoid Brain connectomics
(PIs: C. Crockford, P. Gunz, D. Haun, N. Weiskopf,
A.D. Friederici, A. Anwander)
2010MaxNet Cognition:
Phenotypic analysis of 1000 human brains:
47 000 €
2008Minerva Foundation Research Grant (with Alon Barash):
Virtual reconstruction of fossil crania
2004-2007Austrian Council for Science and Technology
New Perspectives in Anthropological Studies (PI Horst Seidler).
Co-PI on the geometric morphometrics section: 522 000 €
2001, 2004Travel Grants of the "Österreichische Forschungsgemeinschaft".


2001-2007Member of the Paleoanthropological Research Team;
fieldwork in the Ethiopian Galili-Region.


Since 2017Elected Representative Scientific Council (Human Science Section) of the Max Planck Society
Since 2013Board member European Society for the Study of Human Evolution (ESHE)
2012-2015Editorial Board, Journal of Human Evolution
2002-2007Elected representative for the fellows (graduate students and postdocs) of the Marie Curie Research Training Network «EVAN»


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