National Geographic : 1999 Jan
DROPPING IN Skylifted to a Mexican moun taintop, S. Jeffrey K. Wilker son wades through grass to study remains of an ancient fortress near the 2,000-year old ruins of El Pital. "We inspect sites after rains," says Wilkerson, director of the Institute for Cultural Ecology of the Tropics. "Vegetation color helps us locate hidden features." Wilkerson, who has worked in Veracruz for 35 years, identified El Pital, one of the largest pre-Columbian cities on Mexico's Gulf Coast. DRESSED FOR THE DANCE Protected by a veil and thick clothing, Puja Batra peers into a rock bee colony to study the insects' unique dance language. Assisting her is Kethe Gowda, a honey collector from the Biligiri Rangan Hills of southern India. "I do get stung some times," says Batra, of the Michigan State University zoology department, "but it is worth it to learn more about rock bees. They are thought to be the major tree pollinators of Asia's forests."