Making Sense of Evolution explores contemporary evolutionary biology, focusing on the elements of theories—selection, adaptation, and species—that are complex and open to multiple possible interpretations, many of which are incompatible with one another and with other accepted practices in the discipline. Particular experimental methods, for example, may demand one understanding of “selection,” while the application of the same concept to another area of evolutionary biology could necessitate a very different definition.
Spotlighting these conceptual difficulties and presenting alternate theoretical interpretations that alleviate this incompatibility, Massimo Pigliucci and Jonathan Kaplan intertwine scientific and philosophical analysis to produce a coherent picture of evolutionary biology. Innovative and controversial, Making Sense of Evolution encourages further development of the Modern Synthesis and outlines what might be necessary for the continued refinement of this evolving field.
From 400 BC to AD 250, the southern Maya region was one of the most remarkable civilizations of the ancient Americas. Filled with great cities linked by flourishing long-distance trade, shared elite ideologies, and a vibrant material culture, this region was pivotal not only for the Maya but for Mesoamerica as a whole. Although it has been of great interest to scholars, gaps in the knowledge have led to debate on the most vital questions about the southern region.
Recent research has provided a wealth of broadly based new data that have expanded the understanding of this region and its influence on greater Mesoamerica. In The Southern Maya in the Late Preclassic, prominent contributors debate whether the southern region was indeed "Maya" or instead a region of intense multiethnic interaction, with speakers of many languages and many sources of identity. The chapters address a host of advanced developments to which this area can lay claim--urbanism and city-states, the earliest Maya writing, and the origin of the Maya calendar--as well as additional issues including the construction of social and cultural identities, economic networks of early complex societies, relationships between the Maya and the Olmec, and a comprehensive discussion of the ancient city of Kaminaljuyu and its relationship to other cities in the region.