Conservation & Science Staff Bios

Claudio Tennie, Ph.D.

  Adjunct Scientist
Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes


  • Ph.D. ­– Human culture versus great ape traditions: Mechanisms of observational learning in human children and great apes, Göttingen University, Germany
  • B.S. – University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany

About Claudio Tennie:

Claudio is a Birmingham Fellow (research-focused lecturer) at the University of Birmingham (UK). His main research explores the factors enabling cumulative culture, i.e. culture that evolves over time by way of treating earlier cultural items as stepping stones for later ones. He does this by studying non-human animals (mainly great apes) and human children with a diverse set of methodological approaches, combining insights from developmental psychology, evolutionary biology, evolutionary archaeology, behavioral ecology and biological anthropology.

By broadening the scope of species examined, extending his findings into humans' evolutionary past and developing research paradigms that can be applied non-linguistically, Claudio aims to probe the origins of cumulative culture. Other topics he studies include potential physiological reasons for chimpanzee hunting behavior and the evolution of human cooperation (especially of reputation-based cooperation).