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.

There's an entertainment act that's showing up at Minor League Baseball games in which border collies take the field with capuchin monkeys strapped onto their backs.

Together the dog-monkey teams race at speeds up to 30 miles per hour — chasing after sheep — to applause from spectators.

The cowboy monkey rodeo spectacle has been called "an American sensation" and "a wildly popular entertainment act."

But how do the animals involved feel?

Just in time for World Migratory Bird Day, May 10, an article in the April issue of Animal Behaviour explores the impact of shifting migration patterns in one population of migratory birds.

On a sunny Spring day last week, I met two Northern River Otters called Moe and Molly at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, a few towns over from where I live.

They were introduced to me by George Mathews, curatorial director of the VLM — and friend, especially, to Moe.

There's a passage from Brian Kateman's op-ed in the Los Angeles Times earlier this month that I've been thinking about a lot:

"Just about everyone who reduces consumption of meat, eggs and dairy for ethical reasons wants to see the end of factory farming. Yet we waste time by focusing on things like virtue points and identity shoring, and disputing each other's visions of the ideal post-factory-farming landscape."

At a point during human prehistory, hunters' reliance on the spear-thrower, or atlatl, shifted to another kind of weapon — the

A coalition of animal-rescue organizations led by the Best Friends Animal Society based in Kanab, Utah, is aiming to bring the nation to "no kill" status for shelter cats and dogs by the year 2025.

Next week, a new pet adoption center will open in Soho in New York City to intensify no-kill efforts in that city and to bring attention to the national initiative.

The word polyamory, according to this FAQ page maintained by writer and sex educator Franklin Veaux, "is based on the Greek and Latin for 'many loves' (literally, poly many + amor love). A polyamorous person is someone who has or is open to having more than one romantic relationship at a time, with the knowledge and consent of all their partners."

(Polyamory, then, isn't to be confused with polygyny, when one man has several wives, or polyandry, when one woman has several husbands.)

The following are two edited excerpts from Barbara J. King's new book Personalities on the Plate: The Lives & Minds of Animals We Eat.

April, a 15-year-old reticulated giraffe who lives at Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, N.Y., is expecting a calf.

Since late February, when her caretakers made available on YouTube a livestream camera feed from inside her stall, April has been viewed many millions of times. Her fame is international: The BBC deemed the birth "the most anticipated since Prince George made his appearance in 2013."

We Homo sapiens have been artists throughout much of our prehistory, creating paintings, engravings and statues, often representing animals.

Now, a team of researchers has described a new discovery from the rock shelter Abri Blanchard in the Dordogne region of France that features a striking image of an aurochs engraved on a limestone slab.

The average American eats more than 33 pounds of cheese a year.

This is according to Neal Barnard, physician and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. And that's a problem, he says, because it's helping to make us overweight and sick.

You know that voice we tend to use when speaking to babies?

It's a sing-song voice, one with higher pitch, shorter phrases with simpler grammar, slower speech rate, more repetitions, and greater contrast in our vowels. It's called "motherese" or, more accurately, IDS (for infant-directed speech).

Three stories beneath the streets of Washington, DC, I stood on the bottom level of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture — for just a moment alone — as people flowed in all around me.

In front of me stood a stone block. Dating from the 19th century, the block, made of marble, once could be found in Hagerstown, Md. On it, enslaved people brought to the U.S. from Africa were sold at auction.

During a 10-year span, a team of primatologists witnessed 15 daytime births in wild gelada monkeys residing in the grasslands of high-altitude Ethiopia.

Testosterone Rex is extinct.

That's the central conclusion of a fascinating new book by University of Melbourne psychologist Cordelia Fine. Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society hit the bookstores Tuesday.

Many in the science community have expressed concern about the lack of science literacy demonstrated by the new Trump administration.

A look at the administration's statements and actions related to five key issues that are informed by science — anthropogenic climate change, vaccines, evolution taught in public schools, environmental science and protection of public lands, and human rights — bolsters that concern.

Dogs are celebrated everywhere these days for the clever things they and their brains can do, and the science of dog cognition continues to soar in popularity.

As a cat person, I can't help but add that cats, too, show off their savviness for science.

Murmuration refers to the phenomenon that results when hundreds, sometimes thousands, of starlings fly in swooping, intricately coordinated patterns through the sky.

Maybe you've seen a murmuration video before. But this one is especially beautiful. It was shot earlier this month in Wales, at Cosmeston Lakes in the Vale of Glamorgan, and posted on Facebook by the BBC Cymru Wales.

Why do I love this short video so much?

Ever lived overseas or traveled internationally? If so, you might being feeling empathy for the panda sisters Mei Lun and Mei Huan.

In November, these 3-year-old twins were sent from their birthplace at Zoo Atlanta to China. And they have been dealing with culture shock ever since. They especially miss their favorite foods — and they don't respond to the unfamiliar language as they did to sentences directed to them in English.

For 13 minutes last Friday, I was entranced listening to the Moth Radio Hour when attorney, husband and father Chris Gilbert spoke about his son Brody. (Gilbert's segment starts at about 36:30.)

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