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on 8 June 2016
A smartly written highly informative story of a 375 million year old find. The tone is upbeat, pleasant and the writer never patronises or talks down to the reader. I read this in just a couple of days and really didn't want to put it down.
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on 26 May 2017
This is a clear and easy account of our origins, ancestors and early development for the non-scientist. Really enjoyed it- highly recommended!
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on 24 January 2008
(from my amazon.com review)

This is the most enjoyable book I've read on evolution since Gould's fine Wonderful Life. Shubin not only combines great skills in paleontology and anatomy with an insatiable curiosity, but he also has a rare gift at writing as well. The book looks at aspects of human anatomy and senses--hands, smell, hearing, vision, etc--and traces them back--way back! Some of this, of course, has been done before, but Shubin writes with a flair, a clarity, and a precision that brings it all into a new focus. There is also an emphasis on DNA, in particular recent DNA experiments that combined with the paleontology and anatomy makes a very compelling case.

Shubin starts off with the search for a link between fish and land animals that took him to the Canadian Arctic and culminated in the discovery of Tiktaalik--a fish with a flattened head and flippers that made it look rather like a very primitive alligator in ways. The author then shows the evolution of necks and limbs. He does the same with some of the organs such as smell and vision, and shows their evolution as well.

The book is perhaps at its best in its discussion of the role of DNA in evolution. It is now known that it is possible to turn on a gene that is responsible for the development of an eye, for example. So you can create a fruitfly with an eye almost anywhere you want--such as on a leg--and many of these are functional, although in a primitive way. But it gets even more interesting. Suppose you take a gene from a mouse that controls the development of an eye, and implant it into a fruitfly, what happens? You get a fruitfly eye, not a mouse eye. This says a lot about the basic building blocks of life.

The book does have one major flaw. At 200 pages it's way too short! If the writing were dry or stiff, 200 pages would be sufficient, but with Shubin's thoroughly enjoyable writing and choice of subjects, I would have preferred 600 pages.
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on 12 October 2012
This is a beautifully written book and a must read for a any person even slightly interested in science.On reading the first few pages I was hooked and with only a few chapters to complete i guess withdrawl symptoms will ensue.
John C Cullen,
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on 27 May 2013
A thought provoking and illuminating account of humanity's biological and evolutionary history, making connections from creatures of a very distant past to the bodies we walk around in today, explaining how bodies have adapted over millions of years to the present human form. Neil Shubin retells the exciting discovery of 'Tiktaalik' an important intermediate fossil, which was discovered in 2004 this provided the link between fish and land animals. A very interesting chapter about our physical 'weaknesses' and why the human body suffers from certain ailments. A short book that covers lots of ground, well worth a read. June 2015, this book has been turned into a three part bbc4 TV series, excellent do not miss.
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on 6 March 2008
I cant begin to describe how good this book is, ive actually cleaned out my local waterstones of all 4 copies to give friends and have 3 more on order- birthdays sorted for a while!
Rather than look at human body/evolution as two seperate issues, or for that matter get bogged down in too much genetics (hox genes give me a headache) it strips the body down into specific parts and then tries to show how that part has developed, what previous uses it had, and why we have it today. It never gets too scientific or jargony but its still based on proper science and evidence- i wouldnt say a 10 year old could read it but some of my friends are most definately not "readers" and they enjoyed it.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 April 2017
I am writing this review standing up. That is because I find too uncomfortable to sit down, hunched at my dining table. That is the legacy of a body plan laid down long ago, in the waters of a long vanished sea. Fish presumably do not suffer from back problems. This book is about the affinities between us and the natural world. When we go to the zoo, we are looking at captive relatives.

Shubin discovered a bridge species, a fish adapted to live half in the water and half out, an ancestor on its journey out of the water, living around 350 million years ago. From this hook, so to speak, he explores our body plans and its affinities and symmetries with the natural world and our cold-blooded relatives, especially fish and reptiles (the bones of your inner ear are shrunken descendants of the jaw bones of a reptilian ancestor). But, as Shubin reminds us at the close of the book, the links between us and the natural world go far and wide. He might have titled this book - with just as much justice - as 'Your Inner Yeast'.

Shubin does not get into the evolution v creation 'debate'. The facts he presents here speak loud and clear: the species are not immutable and the barriers between them are not fixed. We are fish out of water.
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on 2 June 2008
This book is easy to understand for every layperson and could be used even for teenager to understand the development of evolution and the effects on the human body.
Neil Shubin describes a nice mix of adventure story during excavation journeys into the Canadian artic, and how to search targeted fossils expected in geological strata of 375 million years finally yielded the Tiktaalik fossils. He shows how the work of geologist is the basis for paleontologist fossil hunters to allow structured search and digging.

The description and explanation of the fossils he found, especially the link of fish to land animals are shown using the evolution of limbs are easy to understand without deep knowledge of paleontology or anatomy.
Also the building plan of the human body as a result of the evolutionary history can be traced all the way back to the body plan of fish as Shubin shows.
So the bad design of the human body can be perfectly explained by evolution, just what you would expect if there is no Intelligent Design used for the human body.
Also another alleged `missing link' of the fossil record from fish to land animals is closed with Tiktaalik.

I hope some day `Your Inner Fish' will be published as paperback in Europe as well, to make it available to a wider audience which it deserves.
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on 17 May 2013
This is a great explanation of how, and where, the finding of Tiktaalik (large, freshwater fish) added a huge amount to our knowledge of the origins of land-based vertibrates. There is a constant madness in the world where religious nonsense is off limits to criticism, but such events as the logically planned finding of Tiktaalik in the right rocks of the right age adds yet more irrefutable proof of the mechanism of evolution through natural selection, creationism belongs in a fantasy world of the insane. Dig into the human body and you will find parts that were already under development in Tiktaalik over 300 million years ago. A first class book which will be read and re-read and form an integral part of my library.
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on 10 February 2014
Having read quite a number of other reviews here, I feel I have to give my take on this book. Yes it is "lightweight" in the sense that the reader is not overburdened with detail, methodology, scientific rigour and analysis. But readability - and it is highly readable - doesn't diminish even slightly the monumental significance of the book's content.

This book is NOT a treatise on vertebrate paleontology, or on evolution, or on anything. Essentially it is edited highlights of Shubin's career, mostly looking for and studying fossil fish-like creatures, and the scientific context thereof. Shubin and his colleagues are fortunate to have contributed to great leaps forward in mankind's understanding of his biological inheritance. In that sense I would compare Shubin's book with George Smoot's Wrinkles In Time, an equally slim, readable account of an even bigger scientific quest (NOT however a treatise on cosmology).

As for the author's supposed leanings toward intelligent design as opposed to Darwinian evolution, I don't think Shubin makes any telling statement on the subject. For his purposes he probably doesn't need to. In any case, God doesn't make it into the index.
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