Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pg. 69: Neil Shubin's "Your Inner Fish"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin.

About the book, from the publisher:
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.
Among the praise for Your Inner Fish:
“A delightful introduction to our skeletal structure, viscera and other vital parts — and evidence that learning the secrets of the human body need not unhinge you.... [Shubin] is a warm and disarming guide.... Future researchers, aware that the ingredients of our evolutionary precursors are part of the human recipe, may well find new ways to prevent the wear and tear on our fish-begotten bodies. And who knows? Maybe one or two of them will have had their first taste of the marvels of human evolution in Neil Shubin’s anatomy class.”
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

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.... 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.”
—Oliver Sacks,

“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)
Read an excerpt from Your Inner Fish and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

Learn more about Neil Shubin's research and other publications at his faculty webpage.

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.

The Page 69 Test: Your Inner Fish.

--Marshal Zeringue