Callithrix jacchus group

Research

To understand the evolutionary origin of the human mind we identify both similarities an differences between human and nonhuman primates. We are particularly interested how social, motivational and cognitive processes interact in the “big-C” contexts in which humans excel: Cooperation, Communication, Cognition and Culture.

The callitrichid monkeys are an important model for human cognitive evolution, because like in humans – but unlike in other great apes - fathers and other group members are essential to successfully rear the offspring. By systematically comparing these cooperative breeders with more independently breeding primates, we can identify processes that are systematically associated with shared infant care, and how they impact performance in big-C contexts. A large body of our empirical work thus looks at

Cooperation and prosociality
Communication
Cognition

We do so in the cooperatively breeding, callitrichid marmosets, both in the wild and in captivity, but also in other primate species.

Importantly, this empirical program is embedded in thorough integrative and conceptual work. Here, we explore how variation in primates in big-C Contexts can help us to understand the primate origins of more derived human traits such as intelligence, language, or even morality.