skip navigation: go to the content.


Current Research


Chemical signalling in hominids

Humans are considered to be apes for which the sense of smell has lost its importance. However, is this traditional view of humans as "microsmatic" animals actually true? My research compares our own species with the other great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orang-utans). GC-MS is used to identify semiochemicals that constitute body odours, and to test whether the ability for chemical signalling was actually reduced during human evolution.

Kin recognition via olfactory cues

Can olfactory cues allow primates to discriminate between related and non-related individuals? A prerequisite for this mechanism would be that body odour is heritable, and appears in the phenotype. If so, one would suspect that semiochemicals of related individuals are more similar. I test this possibility by comparing the body odours of paternal half-sisters and non-related females in the rhesus macaques of Cayo Santiago.


My efforts comprise the development of non-invasive semen sampling in wild primates, minimally-invasive blood sampling using distinct insects (patent 2006; DE102004004066B3) and, since recently, non-invasive odor sampling in great apes.