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Cognitive Ethology Lab

The research interest centers of the Cognitive Ethology Lab centers on the evolution of communication, cognition, and social behavior. We study the selective pressures and evolutionary constraints that operate on social behavior, and investigate the cognitive abilities and decision-making processes of Old World monkeys. Because the phylogenetic relatedness is an important factor shaping communication and social behavior, we are interested in clarifying phylogenetic relationship patterns.

A focus of our activities in the last years was to establish the field site Simenti in Senegal where we study wild Guinea baboons. We are collecting long-term data on ~180 individually identified subjects. With this first study on individually identified subjects in their natural habitat, we are contributing to the understanding of the factors that shape the diversity of social systems in the genus Papio. Furthermore, we study the social behavior and cognition of Barbary macaques at the outdoor enclosure "La Forêt des Singes" at Rocamadour and long-tailed macaques at the German Primate Center.

Our research group is based at the German Primate Center in Goettingen, Germany. Julia Fischer, the head of the group holds a joint appointment as professor at the Georg-August-University.

Our team

In the media



In conversation with Tecumseh Fitch

In this interview Julia Fischer talks about her science, her monkeys, her time at "Baboon Camp" and much more.




CRP Simenti Field Station

The Lo Más Vital channel (Spanish) presents insights into the work and life at our field station.



"Cognition in the Wild"

Lecture by Julia Fischer in the context of the DFG Research Training Group "Situated Cognition" at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum.



Monkey Talk

What studies of nonhuman primate vocal communication reveal about the evolution of speech



Prof. Dr. Julia Fischer Head of Department +49 (551) 3851-375 +49 (551) 3851-372 Contact

Helena Walter (on parental leave) Team Assistant +49 551 3851-258 +49 551 3851-372 Contact


How did the baboons get to ancient Egypt?

Researchers from 24 countries have analyzed the genomes of 809 individuals from 233 primate species, generating the most complete catalog of genomic information about our closest relatives to date. The project, which consists of a series of studies in which Dietmar Zinner and Julia Fischer from the department cognitive ethology were also involved, provides new insights into the evolution of primates, including humans.

In a Washington Post article, Rowan Titchener discusses her research on the perception of fairness in primates and its relevance to human evolution.

Humans and monkeys coordinate conflicting interest to maximize their profits

In an SZ article, Stefanie Keupp describes how behavioral researchers from our department carried out an experiment with long-tailed macaques, which suggests that the animals' anger in the event of injustice could be due to disappointment with a person they know. (article in German)