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.

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5:16am

Thu January 22, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Mind Your Moods, Cat Owners

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 1:18 pm

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Babies "social reference" by checking out their parents' facial expressions and voice tones when they encounter a new or strange object or event in their environment — then base their own reactions on mom's or dad's. They look to their parents as they wonder: Is it OK to stay calm, or is it time to worry?

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5:58am

Thu January 15, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

What's Right About A 6-Year-Old Who Breast-Feeds

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 9:09 am

Mothers breast-feed their children of different ages during the Second Synchronized Breastfeeding Worldwide event near Manila, Philippines, in October 2008.
Pat Roque AP

When the British newspaper The Mirror reported in late December that a UK mother named Denise Sumpter was still breast-feeding her daughter Belle, who is 6 and a half years old, two experts were invited to weigh in on the practice.

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7:36am

Thu January 8, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

My 'Word Of 2014': Privilege

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 9:20 am

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What was the top word of 2014?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary says it was "culture," based on increased frequency of use. "Of the top 10 words in the running for the honor, culture had a 15% year-over-year increase in look-ups on the dictionary company's website and in its app."

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8:10am

Wed December 31, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Reflecting On The Year In Animals

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 2:34 pm

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As a writer, my main beat is animals. Yes, I take up all kinds of science-and-society issues rooted in anthropology and psychology, ranging from human evolution to contemporary health, fitness and parenting, to rights for those who express their gender identity or sexual orientation in diverse ways. But animals are at the core of what I care about most intensely — and 2014 has been a fun year for conveying, here at 13.7 and elsewhere, what I have learned.

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11:24am

Thu December 18, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Evidence That Chimpanzee Moms Can Be Sneaky, Too

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Because I teach biological anthropology, I'm reading a lot of student work this week that focuses on the African apes, chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas. During this end-of-semester grading marathon, I've got a festive balance going: grade a handful of papers; grab a Christmas cookie; grade a handful more; wrap a present or two.

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8:04am

Thu December 11, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

In Transgender Teen's Fight, Echoes Of Others

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What happens in a small, semi-rural community in a southern state when an "out" transgender student decides to speak up for his civil rights?

Here in Gloucester County, Virginia, where I live — not far from the Historic Triangle of Yorktown-Williamsburg-Jamestown — the answer is that all hell breaks loose.

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10:13am

Thu December 4, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Would You Run 3,080 Miles For Science?

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 1:37 pm

Endurance runner and Purdue University anthropology professor Bryce Carlson is preparing to run 3,080 miles in 140 days.
Courtesy of Bryce Carlson

Scrolling through my Twitter feed this weekend, I saw a tip to follow biological anthropologist Bryce Carlson at Purdue University. I did — and wow! A fascinating new window on the science of extreme human endurance opened up.

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9:29am

Thu November 27, 2014

6:27am

Thu November 20, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Can't Sleep? Maybe Thinking About Evolution Will Help

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If you're reading this after a night of inadequate sleep, or disrupted sleep, you have company. The National Sleep Foundation reports that over half the people in their survey experienced at least one symptom of insomnia "at least a few nights per week" over a year's period.

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1:32pm

Sun November 16, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Attempting Sex, An Octopus Gets A Surprise

Originally published on Sat November 22, 2014 6:34 pm

Male seeks female — and makes a direct advance towards mating. That's one version of the drive to reproduce in the animal kingdom.

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