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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
5:28 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Plight Of Baby Lab Monkeys Reaches Congress

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

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 10:51 am

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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
5:16 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Mind Your Moods, Cat Owners

iStockphoto

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

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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
5:58 am
Thu January 15, 2015

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

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

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

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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
7:36 am
Thu January 8, 2015

My 'Word Of 2014': Privilege

iStockphoto

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

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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
8:10 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Reflecting On The Year In Animals

iStockphoto

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

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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
11:24 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Evidence That Chimpanzee Moms Can Be Sneaky, Too

iStockphoto

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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
8:04 am
Thu December 11, 2014

In Transgender Teen's Fight, Echoes Of Others

iStockphoto

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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
10:13 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Would You Run 3,080 Miles For Science?

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

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

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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
9:29 am
Thu November 27, 2014

On This Thanksgiving, Celebrating The Wild Turkey

13.7: Cosmos And Culture
6:27 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Can't Sleep? Maybe Thinking About Evolution Will Help

iStockphoto

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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
1:46 pm
Sun November 16, 2014

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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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
2:11 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

A Dark Side Of The Focus On Gay Marriage

Jeff Roberson AP

Gay marriage should be legal in this country. Inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender expressions, people deserve the right to celebrate their love publicly — and to gain the legal and financial securities that marriage may bring.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
5:07 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Animal Behavior: Two Dogs And An Ice Cream

YouTube

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 2:56 pm

Anyone who's lived or bonded with dogs knows that they express their personalities in distinct ways. Once in a while, a video clip comes along that highlights this fact for us in an amusing way. Have a look at this video — it's less than a minute — published earlier this year and sent to me last week by a friend:

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
7:21 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Behind The Scenes: Ethics Of Wolf Wars And Turtle Travels

Once upon a time, documentary film maker Chris Palmer rented a bunch of wolves from a game farm to aid the making of an IMAX film called Wolves. That decision, Palmer told NPR back in August, was better for the species than the intrusive process of habituating wild wolves would have been; the use of non-wild wolves was disclosed in the movie's credits.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
11:20 am
Thu October 9, 2014

When Dogs, Cats And Rats Come To The Rescue

Pete Coppolillo Working Dogs For Conservation

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 3:50 pm

Heroic acts carried out by a wide variety of animals — elk and elephants, horses and goats, dogs and cats — are on offer in Jennifer Holland's just-published book, Unlikely Heroes: 37 Inspiring Stories of Courage and Heart from the Animal Kingdom.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
6:33 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Can Psychedelics Expand Our Consciousness?

Andrew Ostrovsky iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri October 3, 2014 12:57 pm

"One of the great responsibilities we have as a society is to educate ourselves, along with the next generation, about which substances are worth ingesting and for what purpose and which are not. ... If I knew that either of my daughters would eventually develop a fondness for methamphetamine or heroin, I might never sleep again. But if they don't try a psychedelic like psilocybin or LSD at least once in their adult lives, I will wonder whether they had missed one of the most important rites of passage a human being can experience."

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
11:24 am
Thu September 25, 2014

A View Of The Arctic

Courtesy of Peter Cox

Originally published on Thu September 25, 2014 2:00 pm

"Come see!"

That's the vocal code in our house, when one of us wants to summon another to show off a small treasure: the flash of a red fox streaking our backyard; a pink-inflamed cloud as sunset approaches; a snake, sinuous and fine, curving black against the green of high-summer grass.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
10:48 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Looking Beyond Notions Of Erotica In Prehistoric Art

This carved ivory figurine of a woman, found in a cave in southern Germany in 2008, is estimated to be at least 35,000 years old.
Daniel Maurer AP

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 3:10 pm

In the realm of prehistoric art, there's a type of small figurine made of stone, bone or ivory that is famous. It features exaggeratedly large breasts, hips and buttocks.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
12:05 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Still Now, Should Lab Monkeys Be Deprived Of Their Mothers?

iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 3:00 pm

On Monday, the animal advocacy organization PETA released material in support of its campaign to shut down a series of experiments on infant rhesus monkeys carried out at the Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, part of the National Institutes of Health.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
5:04 am
Thu September 4, 2014

The Koan Of The Cat And The Frog

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 9:28 am

Any of us connected with the school calendar — teachers and academic staff, students and their parents — are right now plunging into new beginnings.

September brings a fresh season, also, in the publishing world, in theater and dance and music, and in some sports.

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