Barbara J. King

Friday Animal Blog

Genes for Altruism - Primate Diaries in Exile

October 29, 2010

I'm honored to host a prominent science blogger this week whose work consistently informs my thinking.
This guest post by Eric Michael Johnson is part of his Primate Diaries in Exile blog tour. You can follow other stops on this tour through his RSS feed, The Primate Diaries on Facebook, or by following him on Twitter. (more…)

Surprising Animals, Part Two

October 22, 2010

I’ve decided to revisit a topic I covered a while ago: how animals we live with, or observe in nature, may surprise us.

With the fast-fast pace of life today, it may be challenging to carve out 50 minutes to watch and reflect upon an animal documentary. I’m going to strongly recommend that (more…)

Female apes rule! (When it comes to tools)

October 15, 2010

In both my classes this term at William and Mary, we’re discussing evolutionary puzzles. In Evolution of Gender, we’ve been reading scenario after scenario that reconstructs human prehistory in terms of rigid sex roles: males did x, females did y. And guess who—in the majority of models—gets pride of place? (more…)

On the Radiate and the Binary

October 8, 2010

Mary is in a jam. She can’t manage to make a yes/no, either/or, do this/do that decision. A predator is zooming towards her head and yet – nothing, no ability rapidly to choose right or left, hide or flee..

It’s because of the radiates, Mary knows. She’s been spending (more…)

Collective Learning: Not Just for Chimps

October 1, 2010

I could feel the steam rising through my body, heading right out my ears like in some old TV cartoon. Here was a person discussing how to define and understand unique abilities that arose in human history—but overlooking the magnificent sociality and emotionality of great apes.

We were seated around a seminar table (more…)

Selected Works

Why are animals so irresistible to us? Why do we live with and care so deeply about them? From the famous "art caves" of ice-age Europe, to the ancient villages where animals were first domesticated, to stories of apes, whales, dogs, and cats doing fascinating things today, King weaves together a scenario about the animal-human bond that encompasses our past, present and future.
Can scientists discover a prehistory of religion just as they have traced the evolution of technology, language, and art? What does compassion in chimpanzees, or burial patterns in our human ancestors and Neanderthals, tell us about the origins of religion? In Evolving God, named a Top Ten Religion Book for 2007 by the American Library Association, Barbara King explores these questions.
How do chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas-- the African apes -- communicate using body postures and gestures? Using her many years of experience studying these apes, Barbara King answers this question in a book that offers a new perspective on the evolution of language.