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Science, Technology, and Mathematics > Evolution

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Once We All Had Gills Cover

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Once We All Had Gills

Growing Up Evolutionist in an Evolving World

Rudolf A. Raff

In this book, Rudolf A. Raff reaches out to the scientifically queasy, using his life story and his growth as a scientist to illustrate why science matters, especially at a time when many Americans are both suspicious of science and hostile to scientific ways of thinking. Noting that science has too often been the object of controversy in school curriculums and debates on public policy issues ranging from energy and conservation to stem-cell research and climate change, Raff argues that when the public is confused or ill-informed, these issues tend to be decided on religious, economic, and political grounds that disregard the realities of the natural world. Speaking up for science and scientific literacy, Raff tells how and why he became an evolutionary biologist and describes some of the vibrant and living science of evolution. Once We All Had Gills is also the story of evolution writ large: its history, how it is studied, what it means, and why it has become a useful target in a cultural war against rational thought and the idea of a secular, religiously tolerant nation.

The Origin of Species Cover

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The Origin of Species

A Variorum Text

Charles Darwin. Edited by Morse Peckham

The theories propounded by Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species have had a profound and revolutionary effect, not only on biology but also on philosophy, history, and theology. His concept of natural selection has created eruptive disputes among scientists and religious leaders of his time and ours. The phenomenal importance of his brilliant work is universally recognized, but the present volume marks the first scholarly attempt to compile a complete variorum edition of The Origin of Species, covering all of the extensive variants in the six texts published between 1859 and 1872.

Darwin's changes were extensive. His book grew by a third as he rewrote many passages four or five times, and in this edition Morse Peckham has recorded every one of those changes. A book of such distinctive dimensions, on a subject of such profound importance, will be of intense interest to historians of biology, evolution, science, literature, and cultural development. It will be an invaluable aid to the clarification and full comprehension of this complex and renowned scientific classic.

Original Signs Cover

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Original Signs

Gesture, Sign, and the Sources of Language

David F. Armstrong

In the ongoing debate about evolution, scholars frequently argue either the perspective that humans stand as the end product of a deliberate process or that they derive from a series of random acts of natural selection. David F. Armstrong’s new book Original Signs embraces the Darwinian concept of natural selection and extends it to apply to the formation of language. While most current linguistic theory envisions language as a system for translating the contents of the mind into linear strings of arbitrary symbols, Armstrong asserts that this model does not characterize signed languages. He shows that language is inherently a multichannel activity, of which the two primary channels are auditory and visual. Original Signs employs a more expansive notion of language that takes into account the full range of human communicative behavior. By making no strict separation between language and gesture, this thought-provoking work reveals that the use by deaf people of signs to create a fully formed language is also a natural facet of communication development for hearing people. Armstrong explores the influences of Plato and Descartes on modern linguistics, and delineates the theories of earlier anthropological linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf, who thought of language as natural experiments connected to individual cultures. This exceptional work of scholarship methodically demonstrates that the intricacies of how languages develop, whether they depend upon words or signs, and that the complexity among languages that contact one another cannot be accounted for by the sequential hierarchical processes previously put forth by linguists and logicians. Original Signs will prove to be a fascinating, watershed work invaluable to linguists, anthropologists, and all other scholars and students engaged in the search for the origin of language.

Plants in Mesozoic Time Cover

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Plants in Mesozoic Time

Morphological Innovations, Phylogeny, Ecosystems

Edited by Carole T. Gee

Plants in Mesozoic Time showcases the latest research of broad botanical and paleontological interest from the world's experts on Mesozoic plant life. Each chapter covers a special aspect of a particular plant group -- ranging from horsetails to ginkgophytes, from cycads to conifers -- and relates it to key innovations in structure, phylogenetic relationships, the Mesozoic flora, or to animals such as plant-eating dinosaurs. The book's geographic scope ranges from Antarctica and Argentina to the western interior of North America, with studies on the reconstruction of the Late Jurassic vegetation of the Morrison Formation and on fossil angiosperm lianas from Late Cretaceous deposits in Utah and New Mexico. The volume also includes cutting-edge studies on the evolutionary developmental biology ("evo-devo") of Mesozoic forests, the phylogenetic analysis of the still enigmatic bennettitaleans, and the genetic developmental controls of the oldest flowers in the fossil record.

The Prism and the Rainbow Cover

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The Prism and the Rainbow

A Christian Explains Why Evolution Is Not a Threat

Joel W. Martin

God or Darwin? It is one of the most contentious conflicts of our time. It is also completely unnecessary, according to Joel W. Martin, an evolutionary biologist and ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church USA. In this slim but powerful book, Martin argues that it is not contradictory to be a practicing, faithful Christian who accepts the science of evolution. Martin finds that much of the controversy in the United States over evolution is manufactured and predicated on a complete—and sometimes willful—misapprehension of basic science. Science and religion, he says, serve different purposes and each seeks to answer questions that the other need never address. He believes that many of the polarizing debates about evolution distract from the deeper lessons of Christianity and that literal, fundamentalist readings of the Bible require the faithful to reject not just evolution but many of science's greatest discoveries. Just as the scientific explanation of rainbows is not meant to refute the biblical "rainbow" story of God’s promise, evolutionary theory is not a ploy to disavow the divine. Indeed, Martin shows that the majority of Christians worldwide accept the theory of evolution. He urges his fellow Christians to refuse to participate in the intellectually stifling debate over evolution and creationism/intelligent design.

Reading Human Nature Cover

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Reading Human Nature

Literary Darwinism in Theory and Practice

Showcases the latest developments in literary Darwinism, a powerful approach that integrates evolutionary social science with literary humanism. As the founder and leading practitioner of “literary Darwinism,” Joseph Carroll remains at the forefront of a major movement in literary studies. Signaling key new developments in this approach, Reading Human Nature contains trenchant theoretical essays, innovative empirical research, sweeping surveys of intellectual history, and sophisticated interpretations of specific literary works, including The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wuthering Heights, The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Hamlet. Evolutionists in the social sciences have succeeded in delineating basic motives but have given far too little attention to the imagination. Carroll makes a compelling case that literary Darwinism is not just another “school” or movement in literary theory. It is the moving force in a fundamental paradigm change in the humanities—a revolution. Psychologists and anthropologists have provided massive evidence that human motives and emotions are rooted in human biology. Since motives and emotions enter into all the products of a human imagination, humanists now urgently need to assimilate a modern scientific understanding of “human nature.” Integrating evolutionary social science with literary humanism, Carroll offers a more complete and adequate understanding of human nature.

Rhetorical Darwinism Cover

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Rhetorical Darwinism

Religion, Evolution, and the Scientific Identity

Thomas M. Lessl

The origins, progress, and power of scientific rhetoric

Sabertooth Cover

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Sabertooth

Mauricio Antón

With their spectacularly enlarged canines, sabertooth cats are among the most popular of prehistoric animals, yet it is surprising how little information about them is available for the curious layperson. What’s more, there were other sabertooths that were not cats, animals with exotic names like nimravids, barbourofelids, and thylacosmilids. Some were no taller than a domestic cat, others were larger than a lion, and some were as weird as their names suggest. Sabertooths continue to pose questions even for specialists. What did they look like? How did they use their spectacular canine teeth? And why did they finally go extinct? In this visual and intellectual treat of a book, Mauricio Antón tells their story in words and pictures, all scrupulously based on the latest scientific research. The book is a glorious wedding of science and art that celebrates the remarkable diversity of the life of the not-so-distant past.

Sparing Nature Cover

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Sparing Nature

The Conflict between Human Population Growth and Earth's Biodiversity

Jeffrey K. McKee

 Are humans too good at adapting to the earth’s natural environment? Every day, there is a net gain of more than 200,000 people on the planet—that’s 146 a minute. Has our explosive population growth led to the mass extinction of countless species in the earth’s plant and animal communities?

Jeffrey K. McKee contends yes. The more people there are, the more we push aside wild plants and animals. In Sparing Nature, he explores the cause-and-effect relationship between these two trends, demonstrating that nature is too sparing to accommodate both a richly diverse living world and a rapidly expanding number of people. The author probes the past to find that humans and their ancestors have had negative impacts on species biodiversity for nearly two million years, and that extinction rates have accelerated since the origins of agriculture. Today entire ecosystems are in peril due to the relentless growth of the human population. McKee gives a guided tour of the interconnections within the living world to reveal the meaning and value of biodiversity, making the maze of technical research and scientific debates accessible to the general reader. Because it is clear that conservation cannot be left to the whims of changing human priorities, McKee takes the unabashedly neo-Malthusian position that the most effective measure to save earth’s biodiversity is to slow the growth of human populations. By conscientiously becoming more responsible about our reproductive habits and our impact on other living beings, we can ensure that nature’s services will make our lives not only supportable, but also sustainable for this century and beyond.

Specialization, Speciation, and Radiation Cover

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Specialization, Speciation, and Radiation

The Evolutionary Biology of Herbivorous Insects

Kelley Tilmon

The intimate associations between plants and the insects that eat them have helped define and shape both groups for millions of years. This pioneering volume is a comprehensive, up-to-date treatment of the evolutionary biology of herbivorous insects, including their relationships with host plants and natural enemies. Chapters focus on the dynamic relationships between insects and plants from the standpoint of evolutionary change at different levels of biological organization—individuals, populations, species, and clades. Written by prominent evolutionary biologists, entomologists, and ecologists, the chapters are organized into three sections: Evolution of Populations and Species; Co- and Macroevolutionary Radiation; and Evolutionary Aspects of Pests, Invasive Species, and the Environment. The volume is unified by the idea that understanding the ecological framework of the interactions between herbivorous insects and their host plants is fundamental to understanding their evolution.

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