Barbara J. King

Barbara J. King is a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos & Culture. She is a Chancellor Professor of Anthropology at the College of William and Mary. With a long-standing research interest in primate behavior and human evolution, King has studied baboon foraging in Kenya and gorilla and bonobo communication at captive facilities in the United States.

Recently, she has taken up writing about animal emotion and cognition more broadly, including in bison, farm animals, elephants and domestic pets, as well as primates.

King's most recent book is How Animals Grieve (University of Chicago Press, 2013). Her article "When Animals Mourn" in the July 2013 Scientific American has been chosen for inclusion in the 2014 anthology The Best American Science and Nature Writing. King reviews non-fiction for the Times Literary Supplement (London) and is at work on a new book about the choices we make in eating other animals. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for her work in 2002.

Have you spent quiet time poring over a set of maps? Maybe of a region halfway around the world that you've always wanted to visit — or even the mountains or coastlines of your home area?

Over the millennia, our ancestors continuously developed new techniques and technologies that enabled them to find, eat, and cook meat and plants — and in coastal populations,

As the full extent of the damage from Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana starts to become clear, many of us have been glued to coverage of urgent rescues, including of people's pets.

Think about the last time you were bored — seriously and persistently bored.

Maybe you had to carry out some mind-numbing repetitive task for hours on end, or maybe you were just trapped at the airport or train station, waiting out a lengthy delay without a good conversational partner, book, or movie. You look at a clock and it seems to move at a surreal, glacial pace.

Robots posing as people online are "a menace," Tim Wu wrote recently in The New York Times.

Bots swarm the Internet pretending to be human, slinging election propaganda and controlling hot Broadway tickets.

One busy morning at the Seaford Veterinary Medical Center in Yorktown, Va., two cats brought in by their owner waited in their carriers in the lobby because all of the exam rooms were filled with animals.

These two were nervous creatures, what the center's hospital director, Lowrey Reynolds, told me are termed "red zone cats" — distinct from the more moderately distressed "yellow zone" or laid-back "green zone" cats. In the past, these cats have required anesthesia just to get through a veterinary visit.

In a new book, University of North Carolina, Charlotte anthropologist Jonathan Marks says that racism in science is alive and well.

This stands in sharp contrast to creationist thinking, Marks says, which is, like racism, decidedly evident in our society but most certainly not welcome in science.

Last Saturday, I took part in the first Reducetarian Summit on the campus of New York University in Greenwich Village.

Panel discussions and interaction with the audience — not "sage on the stage" lectures — were the main events of the summit.

As often happens for me, in the midst of trying to process insights coming fast and furiously, my brain grabbed hold of one simple utterance, held on fast, and build connections from there: Lunch should be an academic subject for our children.

On Tuesday, paleoanthropologists led by Paul Dirks at James Cook University revealed in the journal eLife that Homo naledi, a small-brained hominin found in South Africa, lived — and may have cared for their dead in careful, intentional ways — as recently as 236,000 years ago.

Just in time for World Migratory Bird Day, May 10, an article in the April issue of Animal Behaviour explores the impact of shifting migration patterns in one population of migratory birds.

On a sunny Spring day last week, I met two Northern River Otters called Moe and Molly at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, a few towns over from where I live.

They were introduced to me by George Mathews, curatorial director of the VLM — and friend, especially, to Moe.

A coalition of animal-rescue organizations led by the Best Friends Animal Society based in Kanab, Utah, is aiming to bring the nation to "no kill" status for shelter cats and dogs by the year 2025.

Next week, a new pet adoption center will open in Soho in New York City to intensify no-kill efforts in that city and to bring attention to the national initiative.

You know that voice we tend to use when speaking to babies?

It's a sing-song voice, one with higher pitch, shorter phrases with simpler grammar, slower speech rate, more repetitions, and greater contrast in our vowels. It's called "motherese" or, more accurately, IDS (for infant-directed speech).

Three stories beneath the streets of Washington, DC, I stood on the bottom level of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture — for just a moment alone — as people flowed in all around me.

In front of me stood a stone block. Dating from the 19th century, the block, made of marble, once could be found in Hagerstown, Md. On it, enslaved people brought to the U.S. from Africa were sold at auction.

Many in the science community have expressed concern about the lack of science literacy demonstrated by the new Trump administration.

A look at the administration's statements and actions related to five key issues that are informed by science — anthropogenic climate change, vaccines, evolution taught in public schools, environmental science and protection of public lands, and human rights — bolsters that concern.

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When I give public talks about animal intelligence and emotion around the U.S., I'm struck by one thing: a big audience response to the behavior of octopuses.

Last month, Australian surfer Jade Fitzpatrick sustained three bite wounds to his thigh from a great white shark as he waited for a wave on his surfboard off the north coast of New South Wales.

As the Guardian newspaper reported, he was helped out of the water by a friend, received medical treatment and planned to surf again in the same waters within 10 days.

What lurks beneath?

Beneath the water, we find luminescent vampire squid and weighty blue whales. We find super-heated hydrothermal chimneys, sonar-pinging submarines and scientists who roam the watery terrain in submersibles.

Beneath the ground, we find a realm of geysers, volcanoes and tectonic plates. Here also dwell giant earthworms, warthogs and deep roots of wild fig and camel thorn trees. In the subsurface world, humans mine and tunnel and excavate to unleash bones and fossils.

Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen's memoir set for release on Tuesday, is a virtuoso performance, the 508-page equivalent to one of Springsteen and the E Street Band's famous four-hour concerts: Nothing is left onstage, and diehard fans and first-timers alike depart for home sated and yet somehow already aching for more.

A dog video popped up in my Facebook feed this week that I'd never before seen, though it was originally posted late last year. It's clearly a home video, not always perfectly in focus, but in just two minutes tells an intriguing story.

People, I have noticed, get very excited about eating pigs and pig products. Bacon mania has been going for a while now, and the well-established cult of barbecue continues as strong as ever.

Overwhelming hard data from biology, geology and anthropology — gathered with a firm grasp of the workings of evolution — prove false the claims made by creationists.

Earth is not 6,000 years old and it wasn't shaped by a great flood 4,500 years ago. (Earth is 4.5 billion years old.) Humans and dinosaurs did not coexist. (These life forms missed each other by many millions of years.)

When creationist claims are put forth as science in museums or taught as science in schools, our children lose out because their science literacy is diminished.

Wednesday night, the BBC documentary Koko: The Gorilla Who Talks premiered on U.S. TV.

The program tells the story of how Koko, age 44, one of two gorillas living at The Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, Calif., began to learn as an infant to communicate with humans through use of American Sign Language (ASL). She went on to become the most famous gorilla in the world.

Watching the NBC Nightly News broadcast on a Friday earlier this month, I gaped as the last segment aired.

Last week, The Pokémon Co., Nintendo and Niantic Inc. jointly released the augmented reality game Pokémon Go.

A slim volume arrived in the mail this spring and captivated me because the author's joy in doing science and experiencing nature spills out on every page.

Now the book is published, with a pretty nifty title: The Simple Beauty of the Unexpected: A Natural Philosopher's Quest for Trout and the Meaning of Everything. Its author is Marcelo Gleiser.

The National Park Service turns 100 this summer, and I've been thinking about how all of us might celebrate this milestone.

I encounter claims that humans were designed to eat meat — that it's in our genes, that we have teeth made for eating meat, that we need meat to get all the right nutrients — all the time in casual conversation and in media in stronger and weaker versions.

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