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.



Thu July 30, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Raising Voices For Cecil The Lion

Originally published on Thu July 30, 2015 2:09 pm

Cecil the lion's slaughter at the hands of trophy hunters in Zimbabwe has lit up the Internet and social media with protest and outrage in recent days.

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Thu July 23, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Putting Spiders On Treadmills In Virtual-Reality Worlds

Originally published on Thu July 23, 2015 2:50 pm


The methodology described in a recent study, a peer-reviewed paper on animal behavior — in which biologists Tina Peckmezian and Phillip W. Taylor of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, worked with 56 female jumping spiders — is fascinating.

Here's what the biologists did:

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Thu July 16, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Powered By Plants On The Ultramarathon Trail

Originally published on Thu July 16, 2015 2:46 pm

Ultramarathoner Scott Jurek.
Ted S. Warren AP

The Appalachian Trail (AT) runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, crossing 14 states for a total of 2,189 miles. This past Sunday, ultramarathon runner Scott Jurek completed a thru-hike of the AT in record-breaking time: 46 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes.

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Thu July 9, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

'Skyfaring': The Poetry And Science Of Air Travel

Storms over the Bay of Bengal.
Courtesy of Mark Vanhoenacker

In an episode of the Netflix program Sense8, the character Capheus suddenly finds himself an aircraft passenger alongside Riley, another "sensate" to whom he is mysteriously connected emotionally. Flying from London to Reykjavik, Riley is bored, her eyes dulled even as spectacular white clouds drift past her window. Capheus, who lives in Nairobi and has never before traveled by air, is thunderstruck by Riley's refusal to grasp how lucky she is to be dwelling in these skies.

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Thu July 2, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Great White Sharks And The Thrill Of Unseen Nature

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 3:45 pm

Marc Henauer iStockimages

Last Thursday, boat captain Giancarlo Thomae — flying in a helicopter over the Aptos, Calif., coastline — spotted and photographed what he called a "once in a lifetime event." There were 15 great white sharks swimming within a quarter-mile radius of the grounded SS Palo Alto ("the cement ship") just offshore.

"In my 20-plus years at sea, I have never seen anything like this," Thomae noted to media.

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Thu June 25, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

In 'Soul Of An Octopus,' An Invertebrate Steals Our Hearts

Dieter Hawlan iStockphoto

Once a month, The New York Times Book Review includes animals as a category in its best-selling books list. This past Sunday, an invertebrate cracked the top group.

Coming in 10th — after books about birds, dogs, wolves, sheep and elephants — was Sy Montgomery's The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration in the Wonder of Consciousness.

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Fri June 19, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Justice Scalia And The Age Of Humanity

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaking in Atlanta.
Dave Tulis AP

Earlier this month, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delivered a commencement address to the graduating class of the Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Md.

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Thu June 11, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

For Adults, Coloring Invites Creativity And Brings Comfort

Originally published on Thu June 11, 2015 3:01 pm


In 1982, anthropologist Adrienne Zihlman, now professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, published The Human Evolution Coloring Book.

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Fri June 5, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Declaring The Discovery Of A New Species Can Get Tricky

The jaw fragment and teeth of Australopithecus deyiremeda, found in the Afar region of Ethiopia.
Yohannnes Haile-Selassie AP

May was an exciting month for new discoveries that add to our knowledge of human evolution during the period around 3 million years ago. This is before the origin of the genus Homo, 2.8 million years ago, and during the time when Australopithecus afarensis (the famous "Lucy") lived in East Africa.

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Thu May 28, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Viewing Octopus Choreography In Captivity

Originally published on Thu May 28, 2015 5:18 pm

Mattia D'Antonio iStockphoto

The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, crafted in 2012 by a group of international scientists, states that octopuses — the only invertebrate animals mentioned — are conscious animals capable of intentional behavior.

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