Dr Alex Thornton
Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Evolution


My research group website can be found at www.wildcognitionresearch.com.

Most research on animal cognition and culture has been conducted in captivity and so tells us little about the selective pressures operating in natural populations. I take my research out of the lab and into the field to investigate the evolution and development of cognition and culture in the wild. Using experimental, observational and statistical techniques I aim to understand the cognitive challenges faced by animals in their natural environment and examine how the ability to learn from others affects the behaviour of individuals and groups.

My research group and I incorporate approaches from evolutionary biology, psychology and anthropology and work on a range of different study systems. Our current work focuses on jackdaws in the UK and meerkats in the South African Kalahari. Please get in touch if you are interested in collaborating or joining the group.

I am also a member of the Behaviour research group.


2007 PhD Zoology, University of Cambridge
2003 BA (Hons), University of Oxford


2012-2015 BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellow, Exeter
2010-2012 BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellow, Cambridge
2007-2010 Pembroke College Research Fellow, Cambridge
2003-2007 PhD, Cambridge

Contact details

Internal tel5081
Tel+44 (0) 1392 725081
AddressDaphne du Maurier Building
University of Exeter
Penryn Campus
TR10 9FE
OfficeDDM 3059

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