Synopses & Reviews
Why do we look the way we do? What does the human hand have in common with the wing of a fly? Are breasts, sweat glands, and scales connected in some way? To better understand the inner workings of our bodies and to trace the origins of many of today's most common diseases, we have to turn to unexpected sources: worms, flies, and even fish.
Neil Shubin, a leading paleontologist and professor of anatomy who discovered Tiktaalik the "missing link" that made headlines around the world in April 2006 tells the story of evolution by tracing the organs of the human body back millions of years, long before the first creatures walked the earth. By examining fossils and DNA, Shubin shows us that our hands actually resemble fish fins, our head is organized like that of a long-extinct jawless fish, and major parts of our genome look and function like those of worms and bacteria.
Shubin makes us see ourselves and our world in a completely new light. Your Inner Fish is science writing at its finest enlightening, accessible, and told with irresistible enthusiasm.
"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. Parsing the millennia-old genetic history of the human form is a natural project for Shubin, who chairs the department of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago and was co-discoverer of Tiktaalik, a 375-million-year-old fossil fish whose flat skull and limbs, and finger, toe, ankle and wrist bones, provide a link between fish and the earliest land-dwelling creatures. Shubin moves smoothly through the anatomical spectrum, finding ancient precursors to human teeth in a 200-million-year-old fossil of the mouse-size 'part animal, part reptile' tritheledont; he also notes cellular similarities between humans and sponges. Other fossils reveal the origins of our senses, from the eye to that 'wonderful Rube Goldberg contraption' the ear. Shubin excels at explaining the science, making each discovery an adventure, whether it's a Pennsylvania roadcut or a stony outcrop beset by polar bears and howling Arctic winds. 'I can imagine few things more beautiful or intellectually profound than finding the basis for our humanity... nestled inside some of the most humble creatures that ever lived,' he writes, and curious readers are likely to agree. Illus." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"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
"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
"[A] wonder-filled introduction to our evolutionary heritage for lower-level undergraduates and the general public." Library Journal
From the scientist who made the groundbreaking discovery of the fish with hands, here is a lively, thoroughly engrossing chronicle of evolutionary history that unearths the often startling secrets behind why we look and behave the way we do. Illustrations.
About the Author
Neil Shubin is provost of The Field Museum as well as a professor of anatomy at the University of Chicago, where he also serves as an associate dean. Educated at Columbia, Harvard, and the University of California at Berkeley, he lives in Chicago.