Your Inner Fish: The Amazing Discovery of Our 375-Million-Year-Old Ancestor

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9780141027586: Your Inner Fish: The Amazing Discovery of Our 375-Million-Year-Old Ancestor

Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish is the unexpected story of how one creature's journey out of the water made the human body what it is today - and one man's voyage of discovery in search of our origins. Have you ever wondered why our bodies look and work and fail the way they do? One of the world's leading experts in evolutionary history, Neil Shubin reveals the secrets of our biology: why if we want to understand our limbs we should take a close look at Tiktaalik, the first fish capable of doing a push-up; why if we want to know why we hiccup, the answer is in the way fish breathe; and why it is that fish teeth are surprisingly similar to human breasts. 'This would be Darwin's book of the year' Sunday Telegraph 'An intelligent, exhilarating, and compelling scientific adventure story' Oliver Sacks, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat 'Delightful ...his enthusiasm is infectious' Steven D. Levitt, author of Freakonomics 'Profoundly fascinating ...a magisterial work ...expressed so clearly and with such good humour' Financial Times 'Will make you think about your organs in ways you have never considered before' Sunday Times Neil Shubin is a palaeontologist in the great tradition of his mentors, Ernst Mayr and Stephen Jay Gould. He has discovered fossils around the world that have changed the way we think about many of the key transitions in evolution and has pioneered a new synthesis of expeditionary palaeontology, developmental genetics and genomics. He trained at Columbia, Harvard and Berkeley and is currently Chairman of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Chicago.

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Review:

Oliver Sacks on Your Inner Fish
Since the 1970 publication of Migraine, neurologist Oliver Sacks's unusual and fascinating case histories of "differently brained" people and phenomena--a surgeon with Tourette's syndrome, a community of people born totally colorblind, musical hallucinations, to name a few--have been marked by extraordinary compassion and humanity, focusing on the patient as much as the condition. His books include The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Awakenings (which inspired the Oscar-nominated film), and 2007's Musicophilia. He lives in New York City, where he is Professor of Clinical Neurology at Columbia University.

Your Inner Fish is my favorite sort of book--an intelligent, exhilarating, and compelling scientific adventure story, one which will change forever how you understand what it means to be human.

The field of evolutionary biology is just beginning an exciting new age of discovery, and Neil Shubin's research expeditions around the world have redefined the way we now look at the origins of mammals, frogs, crocodiles, tetrapods, and sarcopterygian fish--and thus the way we look at the descent of humankind. One of Shubin's groundbreaking discoveries, only a year and a half ago, was the unearthing of a fish with elbows and a neck, a long-sought evolutionary "missing link" between creatures of the sea and land-dwellers.

My own mother was a surgeon and a comparative anatomist, and she drummed it into me, and into all of her students, that our own anatomy is unintelligible without a knowledge of its evolutionary origins and precursors. The human body becomes infinitely fascinating with such knowledge, which Shubin provides here with grace and clarity. Your Inner Fish shows us how, like the fish with elbows, we carry the whole history of evolution within our own bodies, and how the human genome links us with the rest of life on earth.

Shubin is not only a distinguished scientist, but a wonderfully lucid and elegant writer; he is an irrepressibly enthusiastic teacher whose humor and intelligence and spellbinding narrative make this book an absolute delight. Your Inner Fish is not only a great read; it marks the debut of a science writer of the first rank.

(Photo © Elena Seibert)

A Note from Author Neil Shubin

This book grew out of an extraordinary circumstance in my life. On account of faculty departures, I ended up directing the human anatomy course at the University of Chicago medical school. Anatomy is the course during which nervous first-year medical students dissect human cadavers while learning the names and organization of most of the organs, holes, nerves, and vessels in the body. This is their grand entrance to the world of medicine, a formative experience on their path to becoming physicians. At first glance, you couldn't have imagined a worse candidate for the job of training the next generation of doctors: I'm a fish paleontologist.

It turns out that being a paleontologist is a huge advantage in teaching human anatomy. Why? The best roadmaps to human bodies lie in the bodies of other animals. The simplest way to teach students the nerves in the human head is to show them the state of affairs in sharks. The easiest roadmap to their limbs lies in fish. Reptiles are a real help with the structure of the brain. The reason is that the bodies of these creatures are simpler versions of ours.

During the summer of my second year leading the course, working in the Arctic, my colleagues and I discovered fossil fish that gave us powerful new insights into the invasion of land by fish over 375 million years ago. That discovery and my foray into teaching human anatomy led me to a profound connection. That connection became this book.

Click on thumbnails for larger images

The crew removing the first Tiktaalik in 2004 Ted Daeschler and Neil Shubin propecting for new sites (Credit: Andrew Gillis) The valley where Tiktaalik was discovered (credit: Ted Daeschler, Academy of Natural Sciences)

The models of Tiktaalik being constructed for exhibition (Tyler Keillor, University of Chicago) Me with one of the models (John Weinstein, Field Museum)




About the Author:

Neil Shubin is a palaeontologist in the great tradition of his mentors, Ernst Mayr and Stephen Jay Gould. He has discovered fossils around the world that have changed the way we think about many of the key transitions in evolution and has pioneered a new synthesis of expeditionary palaeontology, developmental genetics and genomics. He trained at Columbia, Harvard and Berkeley and is currently Chairman of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Chicago.

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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Neil Shubin s Your Inner Fish is the unexpected story of how one creature s journey out of the water made the human body what it is today - and one man s voyage of discovery in search of our origins. Have you ever wondered why our bodies look and work and fail the way they do? One of the world s leading experts in evolutionary history, Neil Shubin reveals the secrets of our biology: why if we want to understand our limbs we should take a close look at Tiktaalik, the first fish capable of doing a push-up; why if we want to know why we hiccup, the answer is in the way fish breathe; and why it is that fish teeth are surprisingly similar to human breasts. This would be Darwin s book of the year Sunday Telegraph An intelligent, exhilarating, and compelling scientific adventure story Oliver Sacks, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat Delightful .his enthusiasm is infectious Steven D. Levitt, author of Freakonomics Profoundly fascinating .a magisterial work .expressed so clearly and with such good humour Financial Times Will make you think about your organs in ways you have never considered before Sunday Times Neil Shubin is a palaeontologist in the great tradition of his mentors, Ernst Mayr and Stephen Jay Gould. He has discovered fossils around the world that have changed the way we think about many of the key transitions in evolution and has pioneered a new synthesis of expeditionary palaeontology, developmental genetics and genomics. He trained at Columbia, Harvard and Berkeley and is currently Chairman of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Chicago. Bookseller Inventory # APG9780141027586

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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Neil Shubin s Your Inner Fish is the unexpected story of how one creature s journey out of the water made the human body what it is today - and one man s voyage of discovery in search of our origins. Have you ever wondered why our bodies look and work and fail the way they do? One of the world s leading experts in evolutionary history, Neil Shubin reveals the secrets of our biology: why if we want to understand our limbs we should take a close look at Tiktaalik, the first fish capable of doing a push-up; why if we want to know why we hiccup, the answer is in the way fish breathe; and why it is that fish teeth are surprisingly similar to human breasts. This would be Darwin s book of the year Sunday Telegraph An intelligent, exhilarating, and compelling scientific adventure story Oliver Sacks, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat Delightful .his enthusiasm is infectious Steven D. Levitt, author of Freakonomics Profoundly fascinating .a magisterial work .expressed so clearly and with such good humour Financial Times Will make you think about your organs in ways you have never considered before Sunday Times Neil Shubin is a palaeontologist in the great tradition of his mentors, Ernst Mayr and Stephen Jay Gould. He has discovered fossils around the world that have changed the way we think about many of the key transitions in evolution and has pioneered a new synthesis of expeditionary palaeontology, developmental genetics and genomics. He trained at Columbia, Harvard and Berkeley and is currently Chairman of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Chicago. Bookseller Inventory # APG9780141027586

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Book Description Unknown. Book Condition: New. 2009. Paperback. Tells the story of how one creature's journey out of the water made the human body what it is today - and one man's voyage of discovery in search of our origins. This book reveals the secrets of our biology: why if we want to understand our limbs we should take a close look at Tiktaalik, the first fish capable of doing a push-up. Num Pages: 256 pages, Illustrations. BIC Classification: MFC; PDZ; PSX. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 214 x 128 x 19. Weight in Grams: 192. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780141027586

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Book Description Unknown, 2009. Book Condition: New. 2009. Paperback. Tells the story of how one creature's journey out of the water made the human body what it is today - and one man's voyage of discovery in search of our origins. This book reveals the secrets of our biology: why if we want to understand our limbs we should take a close look at Tiktaalik, the first fish capable of doing a push-up. Num Pages: 256 pages, Illustrations. BIC Classification: MFC; PDZ; PSX. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 214 x 128 x 19. Weight in Grams: 192. . . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780141027586

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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Your Inner Fish: The Amazing Discovery of Our 375-Million-Year-Old Ancestor, Neil Shubin, Neil Shubin's "Your Inner Fish" is the unexpected story of how one creature's journey out of the water made the human body what it is today - and one man's voyage of discovery in search of our origins. Have you ever wondered why our bodies look and work and fail the way they do? One of the world's leading experts in evolutionary history, Neil Shubin reveals the secrets of our biology: why if we want to understand our limbs we should take a close look at Tiktaalik, the first fish capable of doing a push-up; why if we want to know why we hiccup, the answer is in the way fish breathe; and why it is that fish teeth are surprisingly similar to human breasts. "This would be Darwin's book of the year". ("Sunday Telegraph"). "An intelligent, exhilarating, and compelling scientific adventure story". (Oliver Sacks, author of "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat"). "Delightful .his enthusiasm is infectious". (Steven D. Levitt, author of "Freakonomics"). "Profoundly fascinating .a magisterial work .expressed so clearly and with such good humour". ("Financial Times"). "Will make you think about your organs in ways you have never considered before". ("Sunday Times"). Neil Shubin is a palaeontologist in the great tradition of his mentors, Ernst Mayr and Stephen Jay Gould. He has discovered fossils around the world that have changed the way we think about many of the key transitions in evolution and has pioneered a new synthesis of expeditionary palaeontology, developmental genetics and genomics. He trained at Columbia, Harvard and Berkeley and is currently Chairman of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Chicago. Bookseller Inventory # B9780141027586

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