Barbara J. King

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.

I write science, but I read memoir.

The pairing of memoir and science writing can be an excellent conduit for learning: What may strike a reader as somewhat abstract in science writing may become more real when encountered in a searing narrative of a person's own highly specific experience.

Here's a look at a trio of recent memoirs that involve three topics I've written about at 13.7 -- fatness, cancer and gender (though really, gender is threaded through all three):

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

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.

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