Nicole D. S. Grunstra

Assoziierte Wissenschaftlerin

Nicole D. S. Grunstras ORCID Eintrag:

2020 - present co-PI of "Evolvability of inner and middle ears in birds and mammals,' funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) (PI: Dr. Philipp Mitteroecker, University of Vienna).

2019 - present PI of "Towards Resolving the Human Obstetric Conundrum: Theoretical, Computational, and Comparative Mammalian Approaches," funded by the KLI.

2019 - present PI of Post-PhD Research Grant "Of mice and women: Disentangling the human obstetric conundrum using a comparative mammalian approach," funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

2019 – present Fellow at the Konrad Lorenz Institute (KLI) for Evolution and Cognition Research, Klosterneuburg.

2019 - present Affiliated researcher, Dept. Evolutionary Biology, Unit for Theoretical Biology, University of Vienna.

2019 – present Affiliated scientist, Mammal Collection, Natural History Museum Vienna.


2018 – 2019 Postdoctoral researcher, Dept. Theoretical Biology, University of Vienna.

2018 Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Anthropology at the University of Cambridge (UK).

2016 – 2018 Postgraduate researcher, Dept. Theoretical Biology, University of Vienna.

2012 Visiting Scholar, Dept. Integrative Biology, University of California at Berkeley (USA).

2009 Master of Science Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxord (UK).

2008 Bachelor of Arts in Science & Social Science (interdepartmental major in anthropology, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and linguistics), University College Utrecht (NL).

2007 Erasmus exchange, University of California at Berkeley (USA).

Haeusler M, Grunstra NDS, Martin RD, Krenn VA, Fornai C, & Webb NM (2021). The obstetrical dilemma hypothesis: there's life in the old dog yet. Biological Reviews, accepted.

Mitteroecker P, Grunstra NDS, Stansfield E, Waltenberger L, & Fischer B (2021). Did population differences in human pelvic form evolve by drift or selection? Bulletins et mémoires de la Société d’anthropologie de Paris, 33(1), 11-26.


Stansfield E, Kumar K, Mitteroecker P, & Grunstra NDS (2021). Biomechanical trade-offs in the pelvic floor constrain the evolution of the human birth canal. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 118(16), e2022159118. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2022159118


Fischer B, Grunstra NDS, Zaffarini E, & Mitteroecker P (2021). Sex differences in the pelvis did not evolve de novo in modern humans. Nature Ecology & Evolution, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-021-01425-z


Grunstra NDS, Bartsch SJ, Le Maître A, & Mitteroecker P (2020). Detecting Phylogenetic Signal and Adaptation in Papionin Cranial Shape by Decomposing Variation at Different Spatial Scales. Systematic Biology, syaa093. https://doi.org/10.1093/sysbio/syaa093


Cazzolla Gatti R, Menéndez LP, Laciny A, Bobadilla Rodríguez H, Bravo Morante G, Carmen E, Dorninger C, Fabris F, Grunstra NDS, Schnorr SL, Stuhlträger J, Villanueva Hernandez LA, Jakab M, Sarto-Jackson I, & Caniglia G. (2021). Diversity lost: COVID-19 as a phenomenon of the total environment. Science of the Total Environment, 756, 144014. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144014


Le Maître A*, Grunstra NDS*, Pfaff C, & Mitteroecker P (2020). Evolution of the mammalian ear: An evolvability hypothesis. Evolutionary Biology, 47, 187-192.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11692-020-09502-0 * Equal contributions


Mitteroecker P, Bartsch SJ, Erkinger C, Grunstra NDS, Le Maître A, & Bookstein FL (2020). Morphometric Variation at Different Spatial Scales: Coordination and Compensation in the Emergence of Organismal Form. Systematic Biology, 69(5), 913-926. https://doi.org/10.1093/sysbio/syaa007


Grunstra NDS, Zachos FE, Herdina AN, Pavličev M, Fischer B, & Mitteroecker P (2019). Humans as inverted bats: A comparative approach to the obstetric conundrum. American Journal of Human Biology, 31(2), e23227. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.23227


Grunstra NDS, Mitteroecker, P., & Foley, R.A. (2018). A multivariate ecogeographic analysis of macaque craniodental variation. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 166(2), 386-400. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.23439


Grunstra NDS (2018). What’s in a Tooth? Signals of Ecogeography and Phylogeny in the Dentition of Macaques (Cercopithecidae: Macaca). PhD dissertation, University of Cambridge, UK. https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.18511



Le Maître A , Bartsch S, Grunstra NDS, Mitteroecker P (2020). prWarp: Warping Landmark configurations. R package version 1.0.0. https://cran.r-project.org/package=prWarp

I am an evolutionary anthropologist and my area of expertise is comparative and evolutionary morphology of primates and other mammals, collection-based research, geometric morphometrics and 3D imaging techniques. Presently, I conduct empirical and theoretical work on the mammalian pelvis in pursuit of understanding the evolution of the narrow pelvis and difficult childbirth in humans (the "obstetric conundrum").

Additional projects within this research framework include pelvic morphology in bats (Chiroptera), finite element analysis (FEA) of the human pelvic floor, and a comparative study of mammalian pubic symphysis morphology.

In my postdoctoral work at the Dept. Theoretical Biology (now Dept. Evolutionary Biology) at the University of Vienna, I studied internal cranial anatomy in primates by means of micro-CT scans and 3D geometric morphometrics to investigate phylogenetic signal and ontogenetic patterns in primate cranial morphology. I collaborated with Dr. Philipp Mitteroecker (University of Vienna) to develop and apply novel methods to decompose organismal shape.

My PhD in biological anthropology (University of Cambridge, UK, under the supervision of Robert Foley) focused on the taxonomic, phylogenetic, and phenotypic divergence in Macaca (Primates: Cercopithecidae) in an ecogeographic context. I also applied EvoDevo concepts through a study of variational constraints in the craniodental phenotype of macaques. I used morphometrics, multivariate statistics, and phylogenetic comparative methods.






Grants, Scholarships, and Awards



I have received various grants and scholarships from the US, Netherlands, UK, and Austria, including a Wenner-Gren Post-PhD Research Grant ($18,805) in 2019 (US), the Ernst Mach grant (€8,460) for postgraduate research in Austria (OeAD, Austria) in 2015, and a study-abroad grant (€10,000) from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds for talented young researchers in 2010 (Netherlands). I am also a co-PI on the FWF-funded project "Evolvability of inner and middle ears in birds and mammals." 



My main current collaborators are:

Natural History Museum Vienna, Mammal Collection: Frank Zachos.

University of Vienna, Dept. Evolutionary Biology: Barbara Fischer, Philipp Mitteroecker, Mihaela Pavličev, Katya Stansfield, and Anne Le Maître.
University of Vienna, Dept. Palaeontology: Cathrin Pfaff.
University of Bonn, Dept. Anthropology of the Americas: Lumila Menéndez.

University of Zürich, Institute of Evolutionary Medicine: Martin Häusler and Nicole Webb.

University of Texas at Austin, Dept. Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering: Krishna Kumar.



I am the secretary of the Network of Biological Systematics (NOBIS) Austria. I have been on the editorial board of the international journal Mammalian Biology as a Subject Editor since 2019.



1. Zoologie

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