Claudio Tennie, Ph.D.


Conservation & Science


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


Adjunct Scientist


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



Claudio is based at the Department for Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology at the University of Tübingen, Germany. 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 examined species, 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. His other topics of study include potential physiological reasons for chimpanzee hunting behavior and the evolution of human cooperation (especially of reputation-based cooperation).