"If indeed the fish will be the last to discover water, perhaps we can help ourselves by looking at some other species"

(Bruner 1971)

About CBC

How did language and other complex communication systems evolve? Which ecological, social and endocrinological factors shaped the evolution of sophisticated communicative skills? How do communicative and underlying cognitive skills develop?
How similar and different are children’s communicative skills to those of other social animals? Are larger-brained species more plastic than others? How do social and ecological factors influence behavioral plasticity?

These and many other questions are addressed at the Osnabrück Research Group for Comparative BioCognition (CBC).

To achieve this purpose, we explore different model systems:

  1. Children between 0 and 6 years of age,
  2. Our closest living relatives, bonobos (Pan paniscus) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes),
  3. Distantly related primate species: Sooty mangabeys (Cercocebus atys) and Common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus),
  4. Corvids: Ravens (Corvus corax), magpies (Pica pica), and Azure-winged magpies (Cyanopica cyanus).

Diversity at CBC

In the CBC, we value every member of the scientific community within our group and beyond us. We strive to create a working atmosphere that is open, inclusive and safe. We encourage anyone around the world, who has similar interests to the CBC (namely to understand the evolution of language and cognition, animal behavior, animal cognition and communicative systems across species) to come and join us.

Which elements characterize communication systems of other primates?

To examine this question, we study the communicative and cognitive skills of our closest living relatives, the nonhuman primates, living in their natural environments.

Linking individual communicative and cognitive differences to fitness

To understand how selection acts on such traits, we determine whether communicative and cognitive skills vary between individuals, influence fitness, and are heritable.

How do communicative skills develop?

To tackle this question, we investigate the ontogeny of communication and cognition in children living in different human cultures.