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.



Sun March 29, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

This Gibbon Knows Life's A Balancing Act

At the Monkeyland Sanctuary in South Africa, an 8-year-old white-handed gibbon walks the tightrope of a suspension bridge with admirable nerve and skill:

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Thu March 26, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

What Drove Neanderthals To Extinction? Maybe Us.

Stevica Mrdja iStockphoto

Imagine that in a discussion with friends, the talk turns to invasive species and the cascading changes they cause in the ecosystems they colonize.

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Thu March 19, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

We May Have Snakes To Thank For Our Acute Vision

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 8:46 am

Next time you run into an African bush viper like this one, be thankful for your forward-facing eyes.

In a new paper published in the journal Primates, author William C. McGrew, a former professor of evolutionary primatology at the University of Cambridge, reports a high rate of venomous snake encounters by his team of primatologists seeking to observe unhabituated wild chimpanzees in Mount Assirik, Senegal, West Africa.

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Thu March 12, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Does Being Vegan Really Help Animals?

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 11:08 am

Mark Hammon iStockphoto

More people are moving toward a plant-based diet, owing in part to evidence about human health and environmental sustainability, and in part to the emerging scientific consensus on the breadth and depth of animal consciousness and sentience.

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Thu March 5, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Winter Zen: Taking A Cue From Snow Monkeys

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 4:33 pm


We are about 15 days away now from the spring equinox — but winter is not yet done with us.

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Thu February 26, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

A Toxic Stew: Risks To Women Of Public Feminism

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 3:18 pm

Nesterov Vasily iStockphoto

Writer Michelle Goldberg published an op-ed piece last week in the Washington Post with a headline that conveys, in microcosm, an arresting story: "Feminist writers are so besieged by online abuse that some have begun to retire."

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Thu February 19, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Can You Hear Nature's Sounds?

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 11:06 am


Last week, South Florida's nature came alive for me as much through sound as through sight: the flapping of wings as a great blue heron soared up over a river; the plashing of water when an alligator slipped off the riverbank to swim away; the huffing of a manatee taking a breath at the water's surface before she slowly sank again to the river bottom to munch grass.

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Thu February 12, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

A Valentine For People Living With Dementia

Nataliya Arzamasova iStockphoto

This past weekend, when I visited my mother in her assisted living home as I do once or twice a week, I brought along a present. That's not unusual: She and I share a craving for chocolate, and I often bring her new varieties of dark chocolate, her favorite, and other little gifts from my travels.

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Thu February 5, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Fossil Provides Evidence Of Early Human Migration To Europe

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 10:38 am

Dr. Omry Barzilai of the Israel Antiquities Authority holds an ancient skull found inside a cave near the northern Israeli city of Nahariya.
Dan Balilty AP

Some 55,000 years ago, a person — whether female or male, we don't know — lived in Manot Cave in the western Galilee area of what is now Israel. Judging from the partial skull recovered from the cave, and described in Nature last week by Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University and his co-authors, the person was anatomically modern and closely related to the first modern humans who went on to colonize Europe.

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Thu January 29, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Plight Of Baby Lab Monkeys Reaches Congress

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 11:42 am

Actor-activist James Cromwell testified Tuesday on Capitol Hill about the use of infant rhesus monkeys at an NIH lab.
Leigh Vogel PETA

Earlier this week, three scientists, a famous actor-activist and a congresswoman spoke on Capitol Hill about why maternal-deprivation experiments conducted on infant rhesus monkeys at an NIH lab in Maryland do not represent ethical or effective science in the 21st century.

I was one of those scientists.

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