Your Inner Fish

Your Inner Fish is a fascinating new book by palaeontologist Prof. Neil Shubin. Using his knowledge of palaeontology and anatomy, Shubin unravels the connections between humans and every other animal that has ever been on this planet. The book starts off with Shubin explaining how palaeontology works, how sites are chosen, how digs are done and how fossils are found. Then he describes his most famous find of Tiktaalik, a fossilized fish whose fin bones reveal how it must’ve been the missing link between fish and tetrapods. From here on the book gently turns towards explaining how the various features of humans (brain, nerves, eyes, ear, nose and such) have evolved from beings that lived millions of years ago. In all chapters, he covers his bases well by using fossils, comparative anatomy, embryology and DNA analysis for explaining.

Don’t get misled by the descriptions, this book is an un-put-downable and easy read. There’s a casual demeanour in the writing, and this is the first book which I’ve read where the author is both direct and detailed about how certain strange artefacts in our bodies are the results of evolution from fishes and other beings. Shubin even goes as far back as single celled organisms to explain certain features in our anatomy! This book definitely filled the gaps on some niggling doubts left behind by rote textbooks, for example why/how/when did single celled organisms come together to form multi-cellular organisms and finally larger and complex animals? Refreshingly (for a book published in 2008), the Creationism vs. Evolution debate is never touched! In fact, Shubin avoids even mentioning evolution anywhere, it’s taken for granted. This is a good read, loved it.


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