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Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body Paperback – January 6, 2009
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“A compelling scientific adventure story that will change forever how you understand what it means to be human.”
“Magisterial. . . . If you want to understand the evolutionary history of man and other animals, and read no other account this year, read this splendid monograph.”
“Wonderful. . . . A remarkably readable trip through the deep history of our own bodies.”
—The Boston Globe
“[Shubin's] simple, passionate writing may turn more than a few high-school students into aspiring biologists.”
“Lively. . . . Join him and learn to love your body for what it really is: a jury-rigged fish.”
“Remarkably enthusiastic. . . . Shubin presents his arguments creatively and concisely, tackling sometimes profound questions about origins and evolution directly, even humorously.”
—San Diego Union-Tribune
“Shubin's hand, transformed from what was once a fishy fin, provides a powerful example of what evolution is capable of. . . . A deft synthesis.”
“A delightful introduction to our skeletal structure, viscera and other vital parts. . . . [Shubin] is a warm and disarming guide.”
—Los Angeles Times
“With infectious enthusiasm, unfailing clarity, and laugh-out-loud humor, Neil Shubin has created a book on paleontology, genetics, genomics, and anatomy that is almost impossible to put down. In telling the story of why we are who we are, Shubin does more than show us our inner fish; he awakens and excites the inner scientist in us all.”
—Pauline Chen, author of Final Exam
“The antievolution crowd is always asking where the missing links in the descent of man are. Well, paleontologist Shubin actually discovered one. . . . A crackerjack comparative anatomist, he uses his find to launch a voyage of discovery about the evolutionary evidence we can readily see at hand. . . . Shubin relays all this exciting evidence and reasoning so clearly that no general-interest library should be without this book.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“A skillful writer, paleontologist Shubin conveys infectious enthusiasm. . . . Even readers with only a layperson’s knowledge of evolution will learn marvelous things about the unity of all organisms since the beginning of life.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Fish paleontologist Shubin illuminates the subject of evolution with humor and clarity in this compelling look at how the human body evolved into its present state. . . . Shubin moves smoothly through the anatomical spectrum. . . . [He] excels at explaining the science, making each discovery an adventure.”
“I was hooked from the first chapter of Your Inner Fish. Creationists will want this book banned because it presents irrefutable evidence for a transitional creature that set the stage for the journey from sea to land. This engaging book combines the excitement of discovery with the rigors of great scholarship to provide a convincing case of evolution from fish to man.”
—Don Johanson, director, Institute of Human Origins; discoverer of “Lucy”
“In this extraordinary book, Neil Shubin takes us on an epic expedition to arctic wastelands, where his team discovered amazing new fossil evidence of creatures that bridge the gap between fish and land-living animals. . . .With clarity and wit, Shubin shows us how exciting it is to be in the new age of discovery in evolutionary biology.”
—Mike Novacek, author of Terra: Our 100 Million Year Ecosystem and the Threats That Now Put It at Risk
"Cleverly weaving together adventures in paleontology with very accessible science, Neil Shubin reveals the many surprisingly deep connections between our anatomy and that of fish, reptiles, and other creatures. You will never look at your body in the same way again--examine, embrace, and exalt Your Inner Fish!"
—Sean Carroll, author of The Making of Fittest and Endless Forms Most Beautiful
"If you thought paleontology was all about Jurassic Park, take a look at this eye-opening book. Shubin takes us back 375 million years, to a time when a strange fish-like creature swam (or crawled) in shallow streams. Come along on this thrilling paleontological journey and learn how living things--including you--got to be what they are."
—Richard Ellis, author of Encyclopedia of the Sea
"The human story didn't start with the first bipeds; it began literally billions of years ago. In this easy-reading volume, Shubin shows us how to discover that long and fascinating history in the structure of our own bodies while weaving in a charming account of his own scientific journey. This is the ideal book for anyone who wants to explore beyond the usual anthropocentric account of human origins."
—Ian Tattersall, curator, American Museum of Natural History
About the Author
Neil Shubin is the author of the best-selling Your Inner Fish, which was chosen by the National Academy of Sciences as the best book of the year in 2009. Trained at Columbia, Harvard, and the University of California at Berkeley, Shubin is associate dean of biological sciences at the University of Chicago. In 2011 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
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The book is split by 11 chapters. The first four explore the theme of how we can trace the same organ in different creatures. I'll briefly summarize:
- Chapter 1-4:
The author starts by describing his legendary trip to Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada. He describes the struggles and the significance of his finding: The Tiktaalik; a creature from the late Devonian period (375 million years ago) that currently holds as the most well-established evolutionary transition from fish to amphibian. I've read about the Tiktaalik before in one of Dawkin's books, but I was surprised to find out that the author of this book actually discovered it. His expedition is a fascinating read in itself because the author is a great storyteller, and seems to be a really humble, laid-back, and fun guy. He all of the latter not only when sharing his personal experiences, but when speaking on behalf of his chosen subjects as well. He describes how he ended up near the arctic - and on the Pennsylvania highways - when looking for his fossils of choice. He gives a general introduction of where and how - using paleontology and evolution - you would find fossils. He elucidates the difference between fish and amphibian (through bone structure and limbs) and mammal and reptile. There's a chapter dedicated to teeth. Teeth are important and extremely helpful when identifying or distinguishing differences among animals (i.e. reptiles and mammals). There's a chapter dedicated limb structure, specifically the hand and arm. The developmental difference between our arms and a fish's fins are very similar early on in development but become vastly different through the process (inside the egg). The author explains why and shows experiments involving the relevant genes for such functions (those involving the ZPA tissue and Sonic Hedgehog gene manipulation, there's a chapter to this called "Handy Genes").
- Chapter 5-11:
In each one of these chapters, certain body parts of ours are to our distant ancestors. In other words, we get to explore, interpret, analyze, compare and contrast the our body functions with our distant ancestors. We figure out the inception of many body parts (and functions) and why they evolved to work the way they do for us. Specifically, there's a chapter on: the head, entire body, scent, vision, and ears.
Some interesting stuff by chapter: In the field of Embryology, - the study of Embryos, or fetuses - we see that all animals are alike at their very initial gestation stage, with four little swellings called arches that develop around what comes to be the throat area. This is explained in more detail in the book but the fascinating thing is that these arches, depending on the species, all come to have a different but similar function in the body as the conception process gets underway. In the book, the example of comparison are humans and our very distant ancestor shark. Cranial nerve structure is also discussed and compared. Also discussed are headless animals - primitive ones - and the origins of our notochord. There's a whole section on the similarity of active (and inactive) genes among completely different specifies. What happens if you remove tissue, or add certain DNA strands in fruitful area? The evolution of scent is interesting because fish evolving to leave the water and thus become an amphibian, it requires major changes because there are 2 kinds of smelling genes: one for water and one for air. The chapter on scent is epic and so is the proceeding one on vision and then Hearing. We can trace major events in our eyes by analyzing certain eye genes that we share with other creatures. Mammals have the same ear bones as fish, the difference being that wish don't have ears. We come to see that there's major contrast between the functions of these bones for different groups of animals, like mammals and amphibians. These differences are part of why we label an animal to be a "mammal" or "amphibian" in the first place. Our middle ear bones are the malleus, incus and stapes. We come to see that the malleus and incus evolved from jawbones.
Of the million years of life, Homo Sapiens have survived extinction and for the time being remain extant. But this doesn't mean that we don't have our problems. There's no preternatural creator ghost behind the complexity or susceptibility of our bodies, but even better: an evolutionary explanation of everything in our body from our genetic workings to our genotypes. Because of such primitive origins, our bodies aren't fully accustomed to certain things and thus thanks to our fish ancestors we develop things like hernias or hangovers. So why is this better then? For one, because it makes perfect sense! And two, by having a natural understanding of our anatomy, we can spearhead our way into the understanding of imperative issues - like disease or congenital defects - that shackle and sometimes terminate the life of many good individuals. This is very important, and so is this book. I'm grateful I read it.
"We all know the Darwin fish, the car-bumper send-up of the Christian "ichthys" symbol, or Jesus fish.
Unlike the Christian symbol, the Darwin fish has, you know, legs. Har har.
But the Darwin fish isn't merely a clever joke; in effect, it contains a testable scientific prediction. If evolution is true, and if life on Earth originated in water, then there must have once been fish species possessing primitive limbs, which enabled them to spend some part of their lives on land.
And these species, in turn, must be the ancestors of four-limbed, land-living vertebrates like us.
SURE ENOUGH, IN 2004, SCIENTISTS FOUND ONE OF THOSE TRANSITIONAL SPECIES: TIKTAALIK ROSEAE, A 375 MILLION-YEAR-OLD DEVONIAN PERIOD SPECIMEN DISCOVERED IN THE CANADIAN ARCTIC BY PALEONTOLOGIST NEIL SHUBIN AND HIS COLLEAGUES.
TIKTAALIK, EXPLAINS SHUBIN ON THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE INQUIRING MINDS PODCAST, IS AN "ANATOMICAL MIX BETWEEN FISH AND A LAND-LIVING ANIMAL." -
This fish crawled out of the water… AND INTO CREATIONISTS' NIGHTMARES
Some 375 million years ago, Tiktaalik emerged onto land.
TODAY, EXPLAINS PALEONTOLOGIST NEIL SHUBIN, WE'RE ALL WALKING AROUND IN MODIFIED FISH BODIES."
SUMMARY: When a member of the Facebook history and current events website I manage posted this … I considered it a kind of mockery of evolution and written by someone with a limited knowledge of evolution. Since then I have discovered it is an authentic archaeological discovery … you can go to the Museum where it is kept and look at it with your own eyes and touch it if they would let you!
Neil Shubin has written a very comprehensive book detailing his life as a palaeontologist and some of the very significant discoveries made in his classes in which he taught first year medical students in the dissembling of not animal but donated human bodies and his and their experiences in doing so with regard to what they discovered by the original functioning in what form at what time and the gradual evolution into human hands, forearms, upper arms, chest organs, stomach organs, and of course vertebrae, the neural system of the head and the human body’s intricate nervous system that allows movements of the head, eyes, arms and hands.
This book is available in Amazon.com Kindle book and believe me when I say it is the most understandable, written for the public, in terms that the general public can understand, and with many examples, drawings, photograps and other graphic illustrations to help explain the details given by Dr Neil Shubin.
It’s better than the “twilight zone,” “science-fiction,” and “watching the little girl and or Michael Jackson skipping down the yellow brick road” ! … Check it out for yourself! It is a fascinating experience for for those who haven’t been accustomed to reading and trying to understand the scientific origins of life and the universe. Harold L Carter / [...]