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.
For his first book, Shubin (anatomy, Univ. of Chicago) has written a lively little volume for a general readership on the evolutionary legacy, bequeathed to us by our ancestors, of our bodies. The author is especially qualified to address this topic: an evolutionary developmental biologist with groundbreaking research programs in both paleontology and developmental genetics, Shubin also teaches human anatomy to medical students. One of the main players of the book is Tiktaalik, a 375 million-year-old fossil fish from the Arctic that Shubin and his research team discovered in 2004. This fish, the fish of the book title, had fins but also is the earliest known creature to have a neck and wrists, features usually associated with land vertebrates such as ourselves. Other chapters on the hand, the head, general body plans, the teeth, the sense organs, and various ailments address their evolutionary origins and the evidence of their beginnings within our bodies. This book is a wonder-filled introduction to our evolutionary heritage for lower-level undergraduates and the general public. This reviewer also hopes that Shubin will eventually write a book for more academic and advanced readers (in the manner of Sean Carroll). Highly recommended.--Walter L. Cressler, West Chester Univ. Lib., PA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
'Profoundly fascinating !a magisterial work...if you want to understand the evolutionary history of man and other animals read this' Financial Times 'Stunning case histories!dazzling work ... Shubin's style is light and easygoing' Guardian 'Simple, passionate writing!a twenty-first-century anatomy lesson' Nature 'Fascinating!his conclusions take our history back to scarcely conceivable eras and forms' New Statesman 'A compelling evolutionary story... that unpacks the history of our bones' New Scientist 'An intelligent, exhilarating, and compelling scientific adventure story, one which will change forever how you understand what it means to be human' Oliver Sacks
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 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, 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 to 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. (Jan. 15) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.