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Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

Prof. Dr. Kathelijne Koops

Kathelijne Koops, Prof. Dr.

  • Professor
  • Ape Behaviour and Ecology Group
+41 44 635 54 17
Room number
Y42 K-42

Research interests

I am a primatologist and biological anthropologist interested in the evolutionary origins of ape behaviour, including our own. My research specifically focusses on tool use and culture and involves field work across the African continent (Guinea, DRC, Rep of Congo, Uganda).

I currently direct the SNSF-funded Comparative Human and Ape Technology (CHAT) Project, which investigates the influence of ecological, social and cognitive factors on the development and evolution of tool use in African apes and humans. This project compares chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and hunter-gatherers all living in the Congo Basin Forest. By comparing African apes and humans, I hope to identify the processes driving the use of technology across species and, in turn, shed light on the question What makes us human?

Academic record

I obtained my MSc in Biology in 2005 at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Next, I attended the University of Cambridge for my PhD degree in Biological Anthropology, which I completed in 2011. I then became a Junior Research Fellow at Homerton College, Cambridge. Next, I took up a post-doctoral position in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Zurich and as a visiting post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.

In 2020, I became a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Primatology in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge. Since 2021, I am an SNSF Eccellenza Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Zurich and the Principal Investigator of the Ape Behaviour and Ecology (APE) Group.



Koops, K., Humle, T., Frandsen, P., Fitzgerald, M., D'Auvergne, L., Jackson, H. A., Børsting, C., Siegismund, H. R., Soumah, A. G. and Hvilsom, C. Genetics as a novel tool in mining impact assessment and biomonitoring of critically endangered western chimpanzees in the Nimba Mountains, Guinea. Conservation Science and Practice: e12898.

Koops, K., Arandjelovic, M., Hobaiter, C., Kalan, A., Luncz, L., Musgrave, S., Samuni, L., Sanz, S. and Carvalho, S. Chimpanzee culture in context: Comment on “Blind alleys and fruitful pathways in the comparative study of cultural cognition“ by Andrew Whiten. Physics of Life Reviews 44: 77-80.

Koops, K. The puzzle of Pan tool use: Why are bonobos so different from chimpanzees in their use of tools? In T. Furuichi, G. Idani, D. Kimura, H. Ihobe and C. Hashimoto (Eds.), Fifty-Years Study at Wamba. Springer Nature.



Koops, K. and Sanz, C. Progress and prospects in primate tool use and cognition. In B. L. Schwartz & M. J. Beran (Eds.), Primate Cognitive Studies. Cambridge University Press.

Koops, K.Animal behavior: Monkeys use tools for diet quality, not quantity.Current Biology 32: 1037-1039.

Scully, E.J., Liu, W., Li, Y., Ndjango, J.N., Peeters, M., Kamenya, S., Pusey, A.E., Lonsdorf, E.V., Sanz, C.M., Morgan, D.B., Piel, A.K., Stewart, F.A., Gonder, M.K., Simmons, N., Asiimwe, C., Zuberbühler, K., Koops, K., Chapman, C.A., Chancellor, R., Rundus, A., Huffman, M.A., Wolfe, N.D., Duraisingh, M.T., Hahn, B.H. & Wrangham, R.W. The ecology and epidemiology of malaria parasitism in wild chimpanzee reservoirs. Communications Biology 5: 1-14.

Koops, K., Soumah, A.G., van Leeuwen, K.L., Camara, H.D. & Matsuzawa, T. Field experiments find no evidence that chimpanzee nut cracking can be independently innovated. Nature Human Behaviour 6: 487-494.
Mearing, A.S., Burkart, J.M., Dunn, J., Street, S.E. & Koops, K. The evolutionary drivers of primate scleral coloration.Scientific Reports 12: 14119.
Carvalho, S., Wessling, E.G, Abwe, E.E., Almeida-Warren, K., Arandjelovic, M., Boesch, C., Danquah, E., Diallo, M.S., Hobaiter, C., Hockings, K., Humle, T., Ikemeh, R.A., Kalan, A.K., Luncz, L., Ohashi, G., Pascual-Garrido, A., Piel, A., Samuni, L., Soiret, S., Sanz, C. & Koops, K. Using non-human culture in conservation requires careful and concerted action. Conservation Letters: e12860.
Fitzgerald, M., Willems, E.P., Soumah, A.G., Matsuzawa, T. & Koops, K.  To drum or not to drum: Selectivity in tree buttress drumming by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) in the Nimba Mountains, Guinea. American Journal of Primatology: e23382.



Mearing, A. & Koops, K. Quantifying gaze conspicuousness: Are humans distinct from chimpanzees and bonobos? Journal of Human Evolution 157: 103043.

Heinicke, S., Ordaz-Németh, I., Junker, J., Bachmann, M.E., Marrocoli, S., Wessling, E.G., Byler, D., Cheyne, S.M., Desmond, J., Dowd, D., Fitzgerald, M., Fourrier, M., Goedmakers, A., Hernandez-Aguilar, A., Hillers, A., Hockings, K.J., Jones, S., Kaiser, M., Koops, K., Lapuente, J.M., Maisels, F., Riedel, J., Terrade, E., Tweh, C.G., Vergnes, V., Vogt, T., Williamson, E.A. and Kühl, H.S. Open-access platform to synthesize knowledge of ape conservation across sites. American Journal of Primatology 83: e23213.



Koops, K. Chimpanzee termite fishing etiquette. Nature Human Behaviour 4: 887-888.

Van Leeuwen, K.L., Sterck, E.H.M., Matsuzawa, T. and Koops, K. How to measure chimpanzee party size? A methodological comparison. Primates 61: 201-212.



Koops, K., Wrangham, R.W., Cumberlidge, N., Fitzgerald, M., van Leeuwen, K.L., Rothman, J.M. and Matsuzawa, T. Crab-fishing by chimpanzees in the Nimba Mountains, Guinea. Journal of Human Evolution 133: 230-241.

Bibollet-Ruch, F., Russell, R.M., Liu, W., Stewart-Jones, G., Sherrill-Mix, Y.L., Learn, G.H., Smith, A.G., Gondim, M.V.P., Plenderleith, L.J., Decker, J.M., Easlick, J.L., Wetzel, K.S., Collman, R.G., Ding, S., Finzi, A., Ayouba, A., Peeters, M., Leendertz, F.H., van Schijndel, J., Goedmakers, A., Ton, E., Boesch, C., Kuehl, H., Arandjelovic, M., Dieguez, P., Murai, M., Colin, C., Koops, K., Speede, S., Gonder, M.K., Muller, M.N., Sanz, C.M., Morgan, D.B., Atencia, R., Cox, D., Piel, A.K., Stewart, F.A., Ndjango, J.N., Mjungu, D., Lonsdorf, E.V., Pusey, A.E., Kwong, P.D., Sharp, P.M., Shaw, G.M. and Hahn, B.H.  CD4 receptor diversity in chimpanzees protects against SIV infection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116: 3229-3238.



Fitzgerald, M., Coulson, R., Lawing, M., Matsuzawa, T. and Koops, K. Modeling habitat suitability for chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) in the Greater Nimba Landscape, Guinea, West Africa. Primates 59: 361-375.

Koops, K., Schuppli, C. and van Schaik, C.P. Cultural primatology. In: The International Encyclopedia of Biological Anthropology. Edited by W. Trevathan. John Willey and Sons, Inc.



Wrangham, R.W., Worthington, S., Bernard, A.B., Koops, K., Machanda, Z.P. and Muller, M. Response to: Chimpanzee culture extends beyond matrilineal family units. Current Biology 27: 573-591.

Schuppli, C., Koops, K.and van Schaik, C.P. Cultural behaviour. In: The International Encyclopedia of Primatology. Edited by A. Fuentes. John Wiley and Sons, Inc.



Wrangham, R.W., Koops, K., Machanda, Z.P., Worthington, S., Bernard, A.B., Brazeau, N.F., Donovan, R., Rosen, J., Wilke, C. Otali, E. and Muller, M. Distribution of a chimpanzee social custom is explained by matrilineal relationship rather than conformity. Current Biology 26: 3033-3037.

Van Schaik, C.P., Burkart, J., Damerius, L., Forss, S.I.F., Koops, K., van Noordwijk, M.A. and Schuppli, C. The reluctant innovator: Orangutans and the phylogeny of creativity. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 371: 20150183.



Koops K, Furuichi T, Hashimoto C, van Schaik CP. Sex differences in object manipulation in wild immature chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) and bonobos (Pan paniscus): Preparation for tool use? PLoS ONE 10(10): e0139909.

Koops, K., Schöning, C. Isaji, M. and Hashimoto, C. Cultural differences in the length of ant-dipping tools between neighbouring chimpanzee communities at Kalinzu, Uganda. Scientific Reports 5: 12456.

Koops, K., Furuichi T. and Hashimoto, C. Chimpanzees and bonobos differ in intrinsic motivation for tool use. Scientific Reports 5: 11356.

Koops, K., Schöning, C., McGrew, W.C. and Matsuzawa, T. Chimpanzees prey on army ants at Seringbara, Nimba Mountains, Guinea: Predation patterns and tool characteristics. American Journal of Primatology 77: 319-329.

Furuichi, T.*, Sanz, C.*, Koops, K.*, Sakamaki, T., Ryu, H., Tokuyama, N. and Morgan, D. Why do wild bonobos not use tools like chimpanzees do? Behaviour 152: 425-460. *Shared first authors

Hashimoto, C., Isaji, M. Koops, K., Furuichi, T. First records of tool-set use for ant-dipping in eastern chimpanzees in the Kalinzu Forest Reserve, Uganda. Primates 56: 301-305.



Koops, K., Visalberghi, E. and van Schaik, C.P. The ecology of primate material culture. Biology Letters 10: 20140508.

Wilson, M. L., Boesch, C., Furuichi, T., Gilby, I.C., Hashimoto, C., Hobaiter, C.L., Hohmann, G., Itoh, N., Koops, K., Lloyd, J., Matsuzawa, T., Mitani, J.C., Mjungu, D.C., Morgan, D., Muller, M.M., Nakamura, M., Pruetz, J.D., Pusey, A.E., Riedel, J., Sanz, C., Schel, A.M., Simmons, N., Waller, M., Watts, D.P., White, F.J., Wittig, R.M., Zuberbuhler, K. and Wrangham, R.W. Lethal aggression in Pan is better explained by adaptive strategies than human impacts. Nature 513: 414-417.



Koops, K., McGrew, W.C. and Matsuzawa, T. Ecology of culture: Do environmental factors influence foraging tool use in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus)? Animal Behaviour 85: 175-185.



Koops, K., McGrew, W.C., Matsuzawa, T. and Knapp, L. Terrestrial nest-building in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus): Implications for the tree-to-ground sleep transition in early hominins. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 148: 351-361.

Koops, K., McGrew, W.C., de Vries, H. and Matsuzawa, T. Nest-building by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Seringbara, Nimba Mountains: Anti-predation, thermoregulation and anti-vector hypotheses. International Journal of Primatology 33: 356-380.



Koops, K. Chimpanzees in the Seringbara region of the Nimba Mountains. In: The Chimpanzees of Bossou and Nimba. T. Matsuzawa, T. Humle and Y. Sugiyama (Eds.). Springer, Tokyo, pp. 277-287.



Biro, D., Humle, T., Koops, K., Sousa, C., Hayashi, M. and Matsuzawa, T. Chimpanzee mothers at Bossou, Guinea carry the mummified remains of their dead infants. Current Biology 20: R351-R352.

Koops, K., McGrew, W.C. and Matsuzawa, T. Do chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) use cleavers and anvils to fracture Treculia africana fruits? Preliminary data on a new form of percussive technology. Primates 51: 175-178.



Möbius, Y., Boesch, C., Koops, K., Matsuzawa, T and Humle, T. Cultural differences in army ant predation by West African chimpanzees? A comparative study of microecological variables. Animal Behaviour 76: 37-45.



Koops, K., Humle, T., Sterck, E.H.M. and Matsuzawa, T. Ground-nesting in the chimpanzees of the Nimba Mountains, Guinea: Environmental or social determinants? American Journal of Primatology 69: 407-419.

Koski, S.E., Koops, K. and Sterck, E.H.M. Reconciliation, relationship quality and post-conflict anxiety: Testing the Integrated Hypothesis in captive chimpanzees. American Journal of Primatology 69: 158-172.



Koops, K. and Matsuzawa, T. Hand clapping by a chimpanzee in the Nimba Mountains, Guinea, West Africa. Pan African News 13: 19-21.

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