Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology focuses on matters regarding the origins of humankind. The Institute’s researchers study widely-differing aspects of human evolution. They analyse the genes, cultures and cognitive abilities of people living today and compare them with those of apes and extinct peoples. Scientists from various disciplines work closely together at the Institute: Geneticists trace the genetic make-up of extinct species, such as Neanderthals. Behaviourists and ecologists, for their part, study the behaviour of apes and other mammals.

Contact

Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 3550-0
Fax: +49 341 3550-119

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):

IMPRS: The Leipzig School of Human Origins

In addition, there is the possibility of individual doctoral research. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

Department Linguistic and Cultural Evolution

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Department Comparative Cultural Psychology

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Department Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture

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Department Evolutionary Genetics

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Department Primate Behavior and Evolution

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Ancient Maya genomes reveal the practice of male twin sacrifice and the enduring genetic legacy of colonial-era epidemics

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Scientists reconstruct ancient genomes of the two most deadly malaria parasites, Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum

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Genetic analyses of Celtic burial mounds from 500 BCE reveal close relationships and provide new insights into the power structures of early Celtic elites

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First-mover advantage may be key to success in the music industry

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Linguistic analysis provides insight into the vocabularies for body parts in more than a thousand languages

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The last Ice Age has shaped human life in Europe for thousands of years. Driven from Central Europe by low temperatures during glacial periods, Homo sapiens repeatedly reconquered previously uninhabitable regions during interglacial periods. Johannes Krause and his team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig are studying these migrations.

Elspeth Ready from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig regularly travels to the Canadian Arctic for research. She tells of magnificent expanses, special culinary delights, and an icy dog sled ride.

In many ways, our thoughts and actions are influenced by our social background, which is why people’s behavior varies so widely between different countries throughout the world. The psychologist Daniel Haun, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, has made cultural diversity a focal topic of his research. His theory is that we cannot ultimately determine what it is that makes us human until we are aware of what we have in common and what our differences are.

Roman Wittig, who heads up the Taï Chimpanzee Project at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, knows what happens when a virus changes its host, and has experienced it several times in the Taï National Park in the République de Côte d’Ivoire, the last time having been four years ago, when a coronavirus that is harmless to humans jumped from humans to chimpanzees. In collaboration with Fabian Leendertz of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, he is looking into pathogens that cause disease in chimpanzees and which of them could also pose a threat to humans.

To a very large degree, academic freedom as we know it today is based on the way it was conceived in Germany during the 19th century. At that time, it was not only professors who were in a position to make independent decisions about their research topics; students, too, enjoyed freedoms that seem incredible from today’s perspective. Lorraine Daston from the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin has studied the development of academic freedom and its limitations.

Student or Research Assistant (m/f/d) | Social Microbiome Research

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig June 19, 2024

Student or Research Assistant (m/f/d) | Skeletal Genomics

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig June 19, 2024

Student or Research Assistant (m/f/d) for PrimEvo Lab

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig June 19, 2024

Postdoc Position (m/f/d) | ERC Synergy Grant Project QUANTA

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig June 13, 2024

Doctoral position (m/f/d) | Statistical primate demography

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig June 04, 2024

New insights into the origin of the Indo-European languages

2023 Heggarty, Paul; Anderson, Cormac; King, Benedict; Haak, Wolfgang; Krause, Johannes; Gray, Russell D.

Behavioural Biology Cognitive Science Developmental Biology Evolutionary Biology Genetics

An international team of linguists and geneticists, led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, has achieved a significant breakthrough in understanding the origin of the Indo-European language family. Dated language family trees and ancient DNA evidence combine to suggest that the answer to the 200-year-old enigma of Indo-European origins lies in a hybrid of the farming and Steppe hypotheses.

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Human history from cave sediments

2022 Vernot, Benjamin 

Behavioural Biology Cognitive Science Developmental Biology Evolutionary Biology Genetics

Humans and other species are constantly shedding DNA into their environments. Researchers at the MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig developed new methods to extract this human DNA directly from archaeological sediments. We used these methods to fill in the gaps of human history, and discover unknown Neandertal populations.

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The surprising evolutionary history of our oral bacteria

2021 Warinner, Christina; Fellows Yates, James; Velsko, Irina

Behavioural Biology Cognitive Science Developmental Biology Evolutionary Biology Genetics

An international team led by researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, reconstructed the oral microbiomes of Neanderthals, primates, and humans – including the oldest oral microbiome ever sequenced from a 100,000-year-old Neanderthal – and discovered unexpected clues about human evolution, health, and diet.

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Viral Times

2020 Zeberg, Hugo; Maricic, Tomislav; Pääbo, Svante

Evolutionary Biology Genetics Infection Biology

In 2020, a new virus appeared and changed almost everything in our lives. One of the uplifting experiences of the pandemic has been to see how many scientists have risen to the occasion and applied whatever competences they have to understand and mitigate the situation – as we did at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

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First hominins on the Tibetan Plateau were Denisovans

2019 Hublin, Jean-Jacques

Evolutionary Biology Genetics

So far Denisovans were only known from a small collection of fossil fragments from Denisova Cave in Siberia. Together with researchers from China Jean-Jacques Hublin from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology describes a 160,000-year-old hominin mandible from Xiahe in China. Using ancient protein analysis the researchers found that the mandible’s owner belonged to a population that occupied the Tibetan Plateau in the Middle Pleistocene and that was closely related to the Denisovans from Siberia.

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