Sunday, April 5, 2009

Neil Shubin's book: Your Inner Fish.

I recently finished Neil Shubin's wonderful book Your Inner Fish. It's one of the most engaging and fruitful reads I've had. Shubin was co-discoverer, in 2004, of the transitional Tiktaalik fossils on Ellesmere Island. As a paleontologist who's also well schooled in human anatomy, Shubin has a unique perspective on anatomy, geology, and evolution. I filled in a lot of gaps in my training with this read. It's dense enough that I found myself rereading some passages, but enjoyable and very accessible.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in evolution, especially if you also have an interest in anatomy, geology, or paleontology. (It might even be a good bet for the uncle who argues with you about evolution every Thanksgiving--Shubin does a wonderful job of covering the topics of favorite Creationist arguments while deftly leaving out mention of the controversy.) There are many good stories here, and among my favorites was the process by which Shubin and his collaborators chose the site where they, after much work and fruitless expeditions, eventually found Tiktaalik.

Nice Wikipedia site on Tiktaalik here; University of Chicago site (affiliated with Shubin) here. Illustration from NSF.

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