Home > NewsRelease > In Conversation With Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz Co-Author of Wildhood: The Astounding Connections between Human and Animal Adolescents
In Conversation With Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz Co-Author of Wildhood: The Astounding Connections between Human and Animal Adolescents
Norm Goldman --  bookpleasures.com Norm Goldman -- bookpleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, QC
Sunday, November 15, 2020


Bookpleasures.com is excited to have as our guest Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz.

Barbara developsbio-inspired strategies for understanding and addressing human healthchallenges. Her work focuses on the natural world and evolutionarybiology as sources of insight for health and development.

A Professor with facultyappointments in the UCLA Division of Cardiology, Harvard MedicalSchool and Harvard University’s Department of Human EvolutionaryBiology, she co-directs the UCLA Evolutionary Medicine Program andits graduate degree program (M.S. Biology).

Studying a diverse rangeof animals in natural settings she has uncovered evolved adaptationswith relevance to heart failure, sudden cardiac death, seizures,dementia, movement disorders, infertility and psychiatric conditionsincluding anxiety, compulsive and eating disorders.

In 2018, she firstoffered, Coming of Age on Planet Earth a course which uses acomparative and evolutionary frame to better understand thetransition from adolescent to adult life across species.

Barbara studiedevolutionary biology as an undergraduate and graduate student,receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard. Sheattended UC San Francisco for medical school followed bypost-graduate training at UCLA including internal medicine residencyand chief residency, and cardiology fellowship with advanced trainingin heart failure and cardiac imaging.

She has been a member ofthe UCLA Division of Cardiology since 1993 and served as Director ofImaging for the UCLA Cardiac Arrhythmia Group.

In 2012, she publishedthe NY Times bestselling book, Zoobiquity, which makesthe case for a species-spanning approach to health.

Zoobiquity was aFinalist in the American Association for the Advancement of ScienceAAAS)’s Excellence in Science Books Award, Smithsonian Top Book of2012, Discover Magazine Best Book of 2012, and the ChinaTimes Best Book of 2012. It has been translated into sevenlanguages and has been the common read at universities across thecountry.

In September 2019, Dr. B.N. Horowitz keynoted the Nobel Assembly’s Nobel Conference inStockholm, Sweden. The theme of the 2019 conference was theidentification and application of scientific insights from thenatural world to human health.

Dr. B. N. Horowitz is thePresident of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine andPublic Health.

 Barbara recently published with Kathryn Bowersof Wildhood: The Astounding Connections between Human and AnimalAdolescents, a comparative and phylogenetic exploration of thedevelopmental transition from puberty to mature adulthood

 Norm: Good day Barbara and thanks for participating inour interview.

What do you consider to beyour greatest success (or successes) so far in your career? 

Barbara:  I was twenty years into mycareer as a cardiology professor when I had the ‘aha’ moment. AsI explored the natural world for insights into human health, I wasable to uncover many connections between humans and the rest of theanimal kingdom that my single-species focus as a physician would havemissed. 

Norm: What has been yourgreatest challenge (professionally) that you’ve overcome in gettingto where you’re at today? 

Barbara:  When I was a cardiologist,I lived within the world and spoke the ‘language’ of a singlediscipline. My work now traverses disciplines and fields. It can bechallenging to learn not only the languages but the cultures in each.It is also tremendously rewarding.

Norm: How many times inyour career have you experienced rejection? How did they shape you?

Barbara: It depends how you definerejection. My animal “role models” for sticking with somethingyou really want despite not succeeding most of the time: jaguars.Over 6/10 times jaguars set out to kill, prey escape, and they don’tget what they want. Is that ‘bad’ odd? Or is it just the normalreality that many things in life require multiple attempts?

Norm: If you could relivea moment in your life, which moment would you choose and why?

Barbara: As a physician, it was ahuge privilege to participate in the care of gorillas, tapir,mandrills and many other non-human animals. The moment I put atransesophageal probe (photo attached) in a lion and saw a beatingheart that resembled the human heart so profoundly, that is a momentI would gladly relive. It is with me all the time. 


Norm: Do you ever worryabout the human race?

Barbara: It’s hard not to givensome tough realities: We humans are newcomers to Earth—a mere200,000 years—and in that time we have had a catastrophic impact onso many other species and the planet. We have to get our act togethernot just for the sake of our own species! We ‘baptized’ ourselvesHomo sapiens (wise apes). I hope we have sufficient wisdom to makethe right choices for a healthy future and Earth.

Norm: How did you becomeinterested in studying a diverse range of animals in naturalsettings? Why do you believe this to be important?

Barbara: I was a cardiologist atUCLA invited to help care for gorillas, lions, bears and otherresidents at the Los Angeles Zoo. It transformed my perspective onmedicine and my perspective of myself as a human. That was the sparkand almost 15 years later, I am even more captivated by the naturalworld and the power of biodiversity to solve problems and answerquestions. 

Norm: You recentlypublished with Kathryn Bowers Wildhood: The Astounding Connectionsbetween Human and Animal Adolescents. Please tell our audience alittle about the book.  What were your goalsand intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achievedthem?

Barbara:  Kathryn and I set out tounderstand human adolescence by studying adolescence across theanimal kingdom. I wish we had written this book before I hadteenagers. Among the insights: In order to be safe as an adult, youneed to encounter (or learn about) danger as an adolescent. 

In many species,adolescent animals practice courtship for years before having sex. Itis remarkable how similar the challenges of adolescence are acrossspecies and how much we can learn from how other animals deal withthis phase of life!

Norm: Are there vocabularywords or concepts in your book that may be new to readers? Definesome of those. 

Barbara Predator Inspection:Safety behavior in which prey (individually or in groups) approachand observe predators to gain knowledge about them. Also used tosignal to a predator that it has been detected and therefore lost theelement of surprise.

Silver Spoon Effect:Individuals born in good conditions and had abundant resources earlyin life enjoy lifelong advantages (increased fitness).

Winner Effect: Thetendency for an animal who wins one contest to be more likely to wina subsequent one. This is facilitated by specific brain changesassociated with whinning that increases competitive ability.

Norm: Where can ourreaders find out more about you and Wildhood: The AstoundingConnections between Human and Animal Adolescents?




Wildhood website has somevideos and content readers may find interesting and (hopefully)inspiring.

Zoobiquity website alsohas content for those interested somatic and behavioral disordersthat affect both non-human animals and people.

Norm: As this interviewcomes to an end, if you could invite three scientists, dead or aliveinto your living room, who would they be and why?

Barbara:  Niko Tinbergen: Tinbergenwon the Nobel Prize along with two other animal behaviorists in 1973.He recognized the importance of asking why a behavior (or otherphenomenon) exists from an adaptive perspective. I use this frameworkevery day in my work.

Daniel Lehrman: Lehrmanwas an ethologist (like Tinbergen). Tinbergen studied gulls (andother animals) whereas Lehrman studied doves. As a young man, Lehrmanstood up to the most powerful leaders in the field pointing out theerrors in their work. It was brave and helped to save the field.

JBS Haldane: Anotherbiologist and what a brilliant thinker and character! Heconceptualized cloning, IVF and so much more! As a young man, he usedhimself as a guinea pig in his experiments. 

Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors


 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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