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”Your Inner Fish” by Neil Shubin

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  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1062
  • Category: Novel

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The book Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin is an interesting novel that shows the evolution of some of our major structures through time. We all know about evolution and the monkeys but we never really looked in on evolution through “our inner fish”. The book was appealing because it helps to understand how we have come to be with some of the parts of our bodies we take for granted, like how we got our developed smell or our advanced color vision. Your Inner Fish is a good way to jump into the evolution of our ancestors and become more knowledgeable about where we came from.

This book helped deepen my understanding of human biology in a handful of ways. I have never really learned about the evolution of fish and the relationship between humans. All of my classes have been more focused on the evolution of hominids, like the one I was recently in. When thinking about evolution, I automatically go to hominids but this book has taught me to look at both. The book also helped me understand the importance of how the human species has evolved thru time and where the roots of major developments originate. Things like the way the body is built and the similar cells that are responsible for production have changed so much over time, it put into perspective how much change there has been. Deepening my understanding in another way would be the actuality of how similar we all are; fish, humans, amphibians. All creatures have similar structures, and that is why it is so crazy that we are all so different at the same time.

The three most important points of the book would be the body development, how similar genetics are, and why we have developed the way we have. All of these things Shubin goes into vast detail and explains the most important. Shubin linked a major part of the book relating to how the body develops compared to other organisms and the similarities between them all. In the book, you can’t help but notice for example how closely linked fish gills and arms are. There are connections between every living organism and the book points it out. Our similarities are so eye catching that it is hard to get back into thinking about hominids. Shubin describes in the texts some reason why we have evolved the way that we have. All evolutions of the creatures have changed into what they need to be for their surroundings.

What I liked least about this book was it was hard to follow sometimes and the text got a little overwhelming with vocabulary. The intense cells names or the hard to pronounce genes were hard to follow because I had to stop every time. Once Shubin got on his flow about some cell type it seemed like he just kept going and going and the more I read, the more confused I would be. Some areas may be superfluous but the areas that are unnecessary flow with the book. Like the introductions of the chapters, Shubin always starts with a story or and experience closely related to the topic so it brings you in. The parts that could be taken out help with the understanding of the reading because it isn’t that easy to follow. What I liked best was the stories at the beginnings of the chapters so it is strange that they are what could be taken out. The stories made the introduction more interesting and almost made up for not fully understanding the bulk of the chapter.

What it means to be human? To me what it means to be human was walking, talking, breathing air, being the superior mammal. Now that has changed into a much deeper thinking of what makes us human. Our bodies have changed so much in history and we overlook the changes it is making now. All organisms are different but we all are so similar at the same time. Being human isn’t just air breathing or walking because look at the other mammals that have those exact same characteristics. Our cells development, the way our bodies come together, the unique changes it undergoes while growing, and the distinct advancements we have all come to love today. We have advanced past every day and age to see where we are today. We enjoy looking at these things that we started off as in the lab, we can make observations on the relationship between us and other living organisms. We can do so much and we don’t understand how or why. But the bulk of our activity comes from the inside where we can’t see. Our bodies are doing major work while we think that we are resting. My concept of being human definitely changed after reading the book, first because it gave me a better way of thinking we didn’t just come from monkeys and second, because it opened up a new appreciation of the common aspects all species have.

Scientific explanations are hard facts, they can change, but they are facts. Evolutionary biology is a science because how would we ever know anything about our past or where we came from? We would just think we were born with the great capabilities that made us more advanced than any other. There has to be an explanation for that. Scientists keep looking for clues and discoveries that could possibly tell us some of our rich evolutionary history. How would it not be considered a science?

I would recommend this book to other freshman, but I would also recommend taking a bio-archaeology class first. They link ideas together and make you think on both tracks not just hominids. I would recommend this book because it has interesting material and you can’t not learn something even if you read two pages. It is not really a “quick read” but an informative one.

I wonder now, did we look like fish? Not really, but what other developments have made such an impact on our lives and our bodies and what other similarities do we have with other living creatures? If we are so similar are we all related?

Shubin, Neil, and Bird Fiord. Your Inner Fish: The Amazing Discovery of Our 375-million- year-old Ancestor. London: Penguin, 2009. Print.

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