Barbara J. King

A video clip posted this month on YouTube and other sites shows a wild condor, having just flown down from the sky, walking toward and embracing a man in a very moving way. It is capturing attention worldwide and raising some intriguing questions about animal behavior.

Remember the movie Quest For Fire?

It's an iconic Hollywood moment: Ancient humans discover how to make fire. It happens pretty quickly, and there's a chase scene — starring a saber-toothed tiger — to heighten the suspense.

Off the big screen, though, evolutionary changes, including cognitive-behavioral changes that would underpin our species' control of fire, often happen in fits and starts over lengthy periods.

There are some very cool projects going on in spider science these days.

In one study, jumping spiders are induced to climb small viewing towers to contemplate experimentally manipulated images of prey. In another, wolf spiders are invited to assess visual and vibratory signals, digitally altered in various ways, that represent qualities of their potential mating partners.

Innovative methods are being used to ask the question, "What goes on in the mind of spiders?" The results suggest that the answer is "quite a lot."

Are chimpanzees spiritual?

It's a question that Jane Goodall made famous by proposing that the rhythmic swaying and rock-throwing by chimpanzees at waterfalls in Gombe, Tanzania, is an expression of awe and wonder — of spirituality.

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.

At Bonn-Oberkassel in Germany's Rhineland, two people were buried together with a dog 14,000 years ago.

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.

There's an entertainment act that's showing up at Minor League Baseball games in which border collies take the field with capuchin monkeys strapped onto their backs.

Together the dog-monkey teams race at speeds up to 30 miles per hour — chasing after sheep — to applause from spectators.

The cowboy monkey rodeo spectacle has been called "an American sensation" and "a wildly popular entertainment act."

But how do the animals involved feel?

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.

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