Barbara J. King

Friday Animal Blog

Zoos, Please Name that Animal!

May 27, 2011

Last week, my husband and I visited the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, about an hour’s drive from our home. Once through the zoo gates, we headed for the recently-opened Tiger Trail, featuring an elevated winding boardwalk and a fun mix of Asian species including orangutans, siamangs, gibbons, tapirs, brilliantly-colored birds of several species, (more…)

Orangutan Neophobia - And Why I Didn't Go to Borneo

May 20, 2011

The first “thick letter” of my graduate school life—notification that I’d won a fellowship to study tool-use behavior—sent me to the Oklahoma City Zoo to observe orangutans. Together with other fellowship winners, I lived in an on-site building just above the zoo’s necropsy room; I still carry sense memories of (more…)

Neandertal Bones, Chimpanzee Tools, and Museum Wonder

May 13, 2011

Tuesday afternoon I spent suffused in delight, surrounded by bones and stones. As an end-of-semester reward-to-self, I visited the Hall of Human Evolution at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum in Washington. Opened just last year, the Hall is teeming with up-to-date skeletal material, cultural artifacts, and contextual information in the form of graphics, (more…)

Primate-Behavior Final Exam, Anyone?

May 6, 2011

Thick-headed with grading final exams and final papers, I cannot manage a proper blog-post this Friday. At this time of year, with senior grades needed by the registrar before commencement day, the faculty is compelled to work at speed. We tend to hole up with our motivators of choice (mine all involve chocolate) and (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.