Welcome to our website

Welcome to the Human Biology and Primate Cognition website at the Faculty of Life Sciences at Leipzig University.

Our Team

The Department of Human Biology and Primate Cognition introduces itself - get to know our staff!

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Below you will find all the latest information from our research group.

Offer for a student assistant position: In the project "Compositionality in chimpanzee gestural communication" we investigate the gestural and facial communication of chimpanzees. We examine whether and how they combine different gestures and facial expressions in a meaningful way. We are looking for a student assistant for up to 10h/week for a period of one year to start as soon as possible; an extension is possible (project ends 12/2025). The activities mainly include the coding of the extensive corpus of video footage with the software BORIS as well as support in the preparation of publications (e.g. literature research). We offer the opportunity to work in an exciting project and very good supervision by the project team (Chiara Zulberti (PhD student), Federica Amici and Katja Liebal (project leaders)). This position requires a thorough and reliable way of working, interest in the detailed analysis of behavioral data and good English skills. Existing knowledge in behavioral research, possibly with non-human primates, as well as in the use of BORIS or similar software is an advantage, but not a prerequisite for this position. 

If you are interested and have any questions about the project, please contact Chiara Zulberti (chiara.zulberti@uni-leipzig.de).

We offer a Master's thesis on gestural communication in chimpanzees. It is possible to combine this with the “Theoretikum” and “Laborpraktikum”. Please contact Chiara Zulberti if you are interested or have any questions.




What distinguishes humans from apes? How can primate research become fairer?

(Auf einen Kaffee mit ..., Folge 38, 15. Dezember 2023) [in German]

What defines a human being? – There are religious, moral, legal, and medical answers to this question, but there are also answers from behavioural biology. In this podcast episode [in German], primatologist Katja Liebal explains what behaviour she has not yet been able to observe in any other animal species despite years of research. She also talks about aspects in which apes living in zoos might differ from their counterparts in wild populations and her efforts to make research fairer. She also reveals what her favourite cuddly toy was when she was a child...

Radio report
Deutschlandradio, Deutschlandfunk, Zwischentöne "Katja Liebal: Das Wichtigste ist Respekt vor dem anderen Lebewesen", 16.07.2023

Interview with Katja Liebal for the programme Zwischentöne on Deutschlandfunk radio (in German): “Das Wichtigste ist der Respekt vor dem anderen Lebewesen”.

University of Leipzig, Das Leipziger Universitätsmagazin, "Working group "Children and Nature" in the LeipzigLab: Studentin Blanca Striegler erforscht, wie Schimpansen ihre Jungen erziehen", 04.07.2023

enlarge the image: Chimpanzee with immature, Photo: Colourbox
Chimpanzee with immature, Photo: Colourbox

Blanca Striegler is studying behavioural biology and comparative cultural psychology. Recently, she spent five weeks in Chimfunshi, Zambia. There, she conducted a study for the LeipzigLab Group “Children and Nature” and collected data for her Master thesis looking into the relationship between chimpanzee mothers’ parenting styles and the social behaviour of their offspring.

Prof. Dr. Katja Liebal
Blanca Striegler

University of Leipzig, News Portal, "LeipzigLab Group “Children and Nature” at the Animal Advocacy Conference: Wie Kinder das Leben von Tieren wahrnehmen", 26.06.2023

enlarge the image: Six people standing in front of banners in a conference environment
Members of the working group Children and Nature, Photo: Prof. Dr. Katja Liebal

The Animal Advocacy Conference was held at the University of Kent, Canterbury, 2023 June 22-24, and brought together scholars from various social and behavioral sciences and animal welfare activists. The Children and Nature Working Group participated with several presentations.

Prof. Dr. Katja Liebal


elDiario.es, Gesellschaft, "Las jirafas del zoo de Barcelona 'saben' estadística", 04.05.2023
The Times, Science, "Giraffes use statistics to get the tastiest food", 04.05.2023
INDEPENDENT, News, Science, "Giraffes can make predictions based on statistics, scientists suggest", 04.05.2023

Radio report
Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Zeitfragen, "Innovation unter Huftieren: Außenseiter als Problemlöser", 27.04.2023

The New York Times, Science, "Outsiders Solve Problems. Just Ask Goats.", 04.04.2023

University of Leipzig, Das Leipziger Universitätsmagazin, "Von Tieren und Menschen im Leipzig Lab "Kinder und Natur": Mit Katja Liebal unterwegs im Pongoland", 02.12.2020

enlarge the image: As a thank you for their participation in her study, Richard, Anton and Edgar are guided through the zoo's Pongoland by Prof. Dr. Katja Liebal, Photo: Christian Hüller
As a thank you for their participation in her study, Richard, Anton and Edgar are guided through the zoo's Pongoland by Prof. Dr. Katja Liebal, Photo: Christian Hüller

"What are the earplugs for?", "Why is everything in English here?", "And where are the apes?", Richard, Anton (both 11) and Edgar (9) ask excitedly as they enter the Wolfgang Köhler Primate Research Center, called "Pongoland", at Leipzig Zoo. Prof. Dr Katja Liebal guides them through the research centre of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, where also scientists of Leipzig University study ape behaviour, perception and communication.

Prof. Dr. Katja Liebal


Chimpanzee mother with child, Photo: Katja Liebal

Our research

Here you can learn more about our research topics, current projects and their findings.

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Our Publications

Here you can find publications by members of our department.

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We are involved in teaching in the biology Bachelor's and Master's programmes at Leipzig University. In our department seminars, we discuss current research results, especially in comparative biology and psychology.


Biology for medical and dental students

Here can students of human medicine and dentistry find information on biology teaching.

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We also offer theses for students (biology, psychology) with an interest in behavioral research with primates.

Please contact us directly in the courses or by email.

  • Understanding of object properties in farm animals
  • Quantity discrimination in farm animals
  • Risk taking in farm animals
  • The function of peering in captive orang-utans and chimpanzees
  • The use of formal bites in orangutans and chimpanzees
  • Children’s perceptions about plants
  • Concepts of “being human” across different cultural contexts
  • Prosocial behaviour of children towards “fantasy animals”
  • Measuring concepts of biodiversity in children’s drawings of forests  
  • Interaction patterns, development and communication in the context of feeding in non-human primates in zoos
  • Evaluating cognitive and behavioural enrichment for non-human primates in zoos


Prof. Dr. Katja Liebal

Prof. Dr. Katja Liebal


Human Biology and Primate Cognition
Talstraße 33, Room 210
04103 Leipzig

Telephone: +49 341 97-36879
Telefax: +49 341 97-36789

 Sandra Paule

Sandra Paule


Institute of Biology
Talstraße 33, Room 412
04103 Leipzig

Telephone: +49 341 97-36720
Telefax: +49 341 97-36789

Office hours
Monday - Friday: 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.

  • By plane Leipzig-Halle Airport is about 30 minutes by car from the city center. A shuttle bus runs every half hour between the airport and Leipzig's main train station. If there is no direct flight to Leipzig from your city, we recommend flying to Berlin (about a 2-hour train ride to Leipzig), Frankfurt am Main or Hanover (each about a three-and-a-half-hour train ride to Leipzig). Trains run regularly from all three cities to Leipzig.
  • By train Interregio and Intercity trains connect Leipzig with almost all European cities.
  • By car Leipzig can be reached via the A9 (Berlin - Nuremberg), A 14 (Halle - Dresden) or A 38 (Göttingen - Leipzig) freeways.
  • By S-Bahn you can reach us with all lines - stop Hauptbahnhof or Bayrischer Bahnhof

    • S1 - direction Wurzen

    • S2 - direction Markkleeberg

    • S3 - direction Stötteritz

    • S4 - direction Geithain

    • S5 - direction Zwickau

  • By Straßenbahn Once you arrive in Leipzig, you can either take streetcar line 15 in the direction of Meusdorf, streetcar line 7 in the direction of Sommerfeld - stop Johannisplatz