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Your Inner Fish: The amazing discovery of our 375-million-year-old ancestor (Anglais) Broché – 29 janvier 2009

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FINDING YOUR INNER FISH

Typical summers of my adult life are spent in snow and sleet, cracking rocks on cliffs well north of the Arctic Circle. Most of the time I freeze, get blisters, and find absolutely nothing. But if I have any luck, I find ancient fish bones. That may not sound like buried treasure to most people, but to me it is more valuable than gold.

Ancient fish bones can be a path to knowledge about who we are and how we got that way. We learn about our own bodies in seemingly bizarre places, ranging from the fossils of worms and fish recovered from rocks from around the world to the DNA in virtually every animal alive on earth today. But that does not explain my confidence about why skeletal remains from the past—and the remains of fish, no less—offer clues about the fundamental structure of our bodies.

How can we visualize events that happened millions and, in many cases, billions of years ago? Unfortunately, there were no eyewitnesses; none of us was around. In fact, nothing that talks or has a mouth or even a head was around for most of this time. Even worse, the animals that existed back then have been dead and buried for so long their bodies are only rarely preserved. If you consider that over 99 percent of all species that ever lived are now extinct, that only a very small fraction are preserved as fossils, and that an even smaller fraction still are ever found, then any attempt to see our past seems doomed from the start.



DIGGING FOSSILS—SEEING OURSELVES

I first saw one of our inner fish on a snowy July afternoon while studying 375-million-year-old rocks on Ellesmere Island, at a latitude about 80 degrees north. My colleagues and I had traveled up to this desolate part of the world to try to discover one of the key stages in the shift from fish to land-living animals. Sticking out of the rocks was the snout of a fish. And not just any fish: a fish with a flat head. Once we saw the flat head we knew we were onto something. If more of this skeleton were found inside the cliff, it would reveal the early stages in the history of our skull, our neck, even our limbs.

What did a flat head tell me about the shift from sea to land? More relevant to my personal safety and comfort, why was I in the Arctic and not in Hawaii? The answers to these questions lie in the story of how we find fossils and how we use them to decipher our own past.

Fossils are one of the major lines of evidence that we use to understand ourselves. (Genes and embryos are others, which I will discuss later.) Most people do not know that finding fossils is something we can often do with surprising precision and predictability. We work at home to maximize our chances of success in the field. Then we let luck take over.

The paradoxical relationship between planning and chance is best described by Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous remark about warfare: “In preparing for battle, I have found that planning is essential, but plans are useless.” This captures field paleontology in a nutshell. We make all kinds of plans to get us to promising fossil sites. Once we’re there, the entire field plan may be thrown out the window. Facts on the ground can change our best-laid plans.

Yet we can design expeditions to answer specific scientific questions. Using a few simple ideas, which I’ll talk about below, we can predict where important fossils might be found. Of course, we are not successful 100 percent of the time, but we strike it rich often enough to make things interesting. I have made a career out of doing just that: finding early mammals to answer questions of mammal origins, the earliest frogs to answer questions of frog origins, and some of the earliest limbed animals to understand the origins of land-living animals.

In many ways, field paleontologists have a significantly easier time finding new sites today than we ever did before. We know more about the geology of local areas, thanks to the geological exploration undertaken by local governments and oil and gas companies. The Internet gives us rapid access to maps, survey information, and aerial photos. I can even scan your backyard for promising fossil sites right from my laptop. To top it off, imaging and radiographic devices can see through some kinds of rock and allow us to visualize the bones inside.

Despite these advances, the hunt for the important fossils is much what it was a hundred years ago. Paleontologists still need to look at rock—literally to crawl over it—and the fossils within must often be removed by hand. So many decisions need to be made when prospecting for and removing fossil bone that these processes are difficult to automate. Besides, looking at a monitor screen to find fossils would never be nearly as much fun as actually digging for them.

What makes this tricky is that fossil sites are rare. To maximize our odds of success, we look for the convergence of three things. We look for places that have rocks of the right age, rocks of the right type to preserve fossils, and rocks that are exposed at the surface. There is another factor: serendipity. That I will show by example.

Our example will show us one of the great transitions in the history of life: the invasion of land by fish. For billions of years, all life lived only in water. Then, as of about 365 million years ago, creatures also inhabited land. Life in these two environments is radically different. Breathing in water requires very different organs than breathing in air. The same is true for excretion, feeding, and moving about. A whole new kind of body had to arise. At first glance, the divide between the two environments appears almost unbridgeable. But everything changes when we look at the evidence; what looks impossible actually happened.

In seeking rocks of the right age, we have a remarkable fact on our side. The fossils in the rocks of the world are not arranged at random. Where they sit, and what lies inside them, is most definitely ordered, and we can use this order to design our expeditions. Billions of years of change have left layer upon layer of different kinds of rock in the earth. The working assumption, which is easy to test, is that rocks on the top are younger than rocks on the bottom; this is usually true in areas that have a straightforward, layer-cake arrangement (think the Grand Canyon). But movements of the earth’s crust can cause faults that shift the position of the layers, putting older rocks on top of younger ones. Fortunately, once the positions of these faults are recognized, we can often piece the original sequence of layers back together.

The fossils inside these rock layers also follow a progression, with lower layers containing species entirely different from those in the layers above. If we could quarry a single column of rock that contained the entire history of life, we would find an extraordinary range of fossils. The lowest layers would contain little visible evidence of life. Layers above them would contain impressions of a diverse set of jellyfish-like things. Layers still higher would have creatures with skeletons, appendages, and various organs, such as eyes. Above those would be layers with the first animals to have backbones. And so on. The layers with the first people would be found higher still. Of course, a single column containing the entirety of earth history does not exist. Rather, the rocks in each location on earth represent only a small sliver of time. To get the whole picture, we need to put the pieces together by comparing the rocks themselves and the fossils inside them, much as if working a giant jigsaw puzzle.

That a column of rocks has a progression of fossil species probably comes as no surprise. Less obvious is that we can make detailed predictions about what the species in each layer might actually look like, by comparing them with species of animals that are alive today; this information helps us to predict the kinds of fossils we will find in ancient rock layers. In fact, the fossil sequences in the world’s rocks can be predicted by comparing ourselves with the animals at our local zoo or aquarium.

How can a walk through the zoo help us predict where we should look in the rocks to find important fossils? A zoo offers a great variety of creatures that are all distinct in many ways. But let’s not focus on what makes them distinct; to pull off our prediction, we need to focus on what different creatures share. We can then use the features common to all species to identify groups of creatures with similar traits. All the living things can be organized and arranged like a set of Russian nesting dolls, with smaller groups of animals comprised in bigger groups of animals. When we do this, we discover something very fundamental about nature.

Every species in the zoo and the aquarium has a head and two eyes. Call these species “Everythings.” A subset of the creatures with a head and two eyes has limbs. Call the limbed species “Everythings with limbs.” A subset of these headed and limbed creatures has a huge brain, walks on two feet, and speaks. That subset is us, humans. We could, of course, use this way of categorizing things to make many more subsets, but even this threefold division has predictive power.

The fossils inside the rocks of the world generally follow this order, and we can put it to use in designing new expeditions. To use the example above, the first member of the group “Everythings,” a creature with a head and two eyes, is found in the fossil record well before the first “Everything with limbs.” More precisely, the first fish (a card-carrying member of the “Everythings”) appears before the first amphibian (an “Everything with limbs”). Obviously, we refine this by looking at more kinds of animals and many more characteristics that groups of them share, as well as by assessing the actual age of the rocks themselves.

In our labs, we do exactly this type of analysis with thousands upon thousands of characteristics and species. We look at every bit of anatomy we can, and often at large chunks of DNA. There are so much data that we often need powerful computers to show us the groups within groups. This approach is the foundation of biology, because it enables us to make hypotheses about how creatures are related to one another.

Besides helping us refine the groupings of life, hundreds of years of fossil collection have produced a vast library, or catalogue, of the ages of the earth and the life on it. We can now identify general time periods when major changes occurred. Interested in the origin of mammals? Go to rocks from the period called the Early Mesozoic; geochemistry tells us that these rocks are likely about 210 million years old. Interested in the origin of primates? Go higher in the rock column, to the Cretaceous period, where rocks are about 80 million years old.

The order of fossils in the world’s rocks is powerful evidence of our connections to the rest of life. If, digging in 600-million-year-old rocks, we found the earliest jellyfish lying next to the skeleton of a woodchuck, then we would have to rewrite our texts. That woodchuck would have appeared earlier in the fossil record than the first mammal, reptile, or even fish—before even the first worm. Moreover, our ancient woodchuck would tell us that much of what we think we know about the history of the earth and life on it is wrong. Despite more than 150 years of people looking for fossils—on every continent of earth and in virtually every rock layer that is accessible—this observation has never been made.

Let’s now return to our problem of how to find relatives of the first fish to walk on land. In our grouping scheme, these creatures are somewhere between the “Everythings” and the “Everythings with limbs.” Map this to what we know of the rocks, and there is strong geological evidence that the period from 380 million to 365 million years ago is the critical time. The younger rocks in that range, those about 360 million years old, include diverse kinds of fossilized animals that we would all recognize as amphibians or reptiles. My colleague Jenny Clack at Cambridge University and others have uncovered amphibians from rocks in Greenland that are about 365 million years old. With their necks, their ears, and their four legs, they do not look like fish. But in rocks that are about 385 million years old, we find whole fish that look like, well, fish. They have fins, conical heads, and scales; and they have no necks. Given this, it is probably no great surprise that we should focus on rocks about 375 million years old to find evidence of the transition between fish and land-living animals.

We have settled on a time period to research, and so have identified the layers of the geological column we wish to investigate. Now the challenge is to find rocks that were formed under conditions capable of preserving fossils. Rocks form in different kinds of environments and these initial settings leave distinct signatures on the rock layers. Volcanic rocks are mostly out. No fish that we know of can live in lava. And even if such a fish existed, its fossilized bones would not survive the superheated conditions in which basalts, rhyolites, granites, and other igneous rocks are formed. We can also ignore metamorphic rocks, such as schist and marble, for they have undergone either superheating or extreme pressure since their initial formation. Whatever fossils might have been preserved in them have long since disappeared. Ideal to preserve fossils are sedimentary rocks: limestones, sandstones, siltstones, and shales. Compared with volcanic and metamorphic rocks, these are formed by more gentle processes, including the action of rivers, lakes, and seas. Not only are animals likely to live in such environments, but the sedimentary processes make these rocks more likely places to preserve fossils. For example, in an ocean or lake, particles constantly settle out of the water and are deposited on the bottom. Over time, as these particles accumulate, they are compressed by new, overriding layers. The gradual compression, coupled with chemical processes happening inside the rocks over long periods of time, means that any skeletons contained in the rocks stand a decent chance of fossilizing. Similar processes happen in and along streams. The general rule is that the gentler the flow of the stream or river, the better preserved the fossils.


From the Hardcover edition. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

“A compelling scientific adventure story that will change forever how you understand what it means to be human.” —Oliver Sacks“Magisterial. . . . If you want to understand the evolutionary history of man and other animals, and read no other account this year, read this splendid monograph.” —Financial Times“Wonderful. . . . A remarkably readable trip through the deep history of our own bodies.” —The Boston Globe “[Shubin's] simple, passionate writing may turn more than a few high-school students into aspiring biologists.” —Nature“Lively. . . . Join him and learn to love your body for what it really is: a jury-rigged fish.” —Discover “Remarkably enthusiastic. . . . Shubin presents his arguments creatively and concisely, tackling sometimes profound questions about origins and evolution directly, even humorously.” —San Diego Union-Tribune“Shubin's hand, transformed from what was once a fishy fin, provides a powerful example of what evolution is capable of. . . . A deft synthesis.” —New Scientist“A delightful introduction to our skeletal structure, viscera and other vital parts. . . . [Shubin] is a warm and disarming guide.” —Los Angeles Times“With infectious enthusiasm, unfailing clarity, and laugh-out-loud humor, Neil Shubin has created a book on paleontology, genetics, genomics, and anatomy that is almost impossible to put down. In telling the story of why we are who we are, Shubin does more than show us our inner fish; he awakens and excites the inner scientist in us all.” —Pauline Chen, author of Final Exam“The antievolution crowd is always asking where the missing links in the descent of man are. Well, paleontologist Shubin actually discovered one. . . . A crackerjack comparative anatomist, he uses his find to launch a voyage of discovery about the evolutionary evidence we can readily see at hand. . . . Shubin relays all this exciting evidence and reasoning so clearly that no general-interest library should be without this book.” —Booklist (starred review)“A skillful writer, paleontologist Shubin conveys infectious enthusiasm. . . . Even readers with only a layperson’s knowledge of evolution will learn marvelous things about the unity of all organisms since the beginning of life.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)“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. . . . Shubin moves smoothly through the anatomical spectrum. . . . [He] excels at explaining the science, making each discovery an adventure.” —Publishers Weekly“I was hooked from the first chapter of Your Inner Fish. Creationists will want this book banned because it presents irrefutable evidence for a transitional creature that set the stage for the journey from sea to land. This engaging book combines the excitement of discovery with the rigors of great scholarship to provide a convincing case of evolution from fish to man.” —Don Johanson, director, Institute of Human Origins; discoverer of “Lucy”“In this extraordinary book, Neil Shubin takes us on an epic expedition to arctic wastelands, where his team discovered amazing new fossil evidence of creatures that bridge the gap between fish and land-living animals. . . .With clarity and wit, Shubin shows us how exciting it is to be in the new age of discovery in evolutionary biology.” —Mike Novacek, author of Terra: Our 100 Million Year Ecosystem and the Threats That Now Put It at Risk"Cleverly weaving together adventures in paleontology with very accessible science, Neil Shubin reveals the many surprisingly deep connections between our anatomy and that of fish, reptiles, and other creatures. You will never look at your body in the same way again--examine, embrace, and exalt Your Inner Fish!"—Sean Carroll, author of The Making of Fittest and Endless Forms Most Beautiful"If you thought paleontology was all about Jurassic Park, take a look at this eye-opening book. Shubin takes us back 375 million years, to a time when a strange fish-like creature swam (or crawled) in shallow streams. Come along on this thrilling paleontological journey and learn how living things--including you--got to be what they are."—Richard Ellis, author of Encyclopedia of the Sea"The human story didn't start with the first bipeds; it began literally billions of years ago. In this easy-reading volume, Shubin shows us how to discover that long and fascinating history in the structure of our own bodies while weaving in a charming account of his own scientific journey. This is the ideal book for anyone who wants to explore beyond the usual anthropocentric account of human origins."—Ian Tattersall, curator, American Museum of Natural History --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Par FeydRAUTHA COMMENTATEUR DU HALL D'HONNEURTOP 50 COMMENTATEURSMEMBRE DU CLUB DES TESTEURS le 19 août 2015
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Your Inner Fish est le best seller de Neil Shubin, le livre qui l'a fait connaître au grand public. Et pour cause : c'est un très bon ouvrage de vulgarisation sur la théorie de l'évolution. A partir de la découverte d'un fossil, Tiktaalik, Neil Shubin nous emmène dans un voyage à travers les âges pour nous montrer comment notre corps est l'héritier de millions d'années d'évolution.

Cet ouvrage est facile à lire et propose la synthèse de nombreux domaines des sciences, de l'anatomie à la paléontologie, en passant par la génétique, tout en rendant accessible au lecteur non scientifique les derniers développements autour de cette fameuse théorie. C'est un excellent livre pour aborder l'évolution.

Je précise que la lecture de ce livre en anglais est relativement simple et ne demande pas énormément d'efforts pour qui connait un peu l'anglais.
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Among many reasons that make evolution of life such a fascinating subject to study, the fact that we can learn more about how we humans have become what we are today must rank close to the top. This is the basic premise behind Neil Shubin's "Your Inner Fish." Shubin's day job is field paleontologist, but the idea for this book came about when he taught some laboratory exercises in human anatomy. It turns out that his training in recognizing and categorizing bones of long-extinct creatures is an excellent preparation for understanding of how the human body works.

The book is a fascinating and insightful journey into the 3.5 billion years of evolution. It combines scientific facts and information with personal stories and anecdotes. The scientific information is fresh and relevant, and it is not just a regurgitation of the material that can be found in a myriad other books on evolution. These facts really help you with gaining insight into how exactly all life on Earth is related.

The last major chapter is probably the most interesting. It is an examination of the way that many of our chronic diseases and illnesses can be traced to the very restricted design options that evolution had. There really is a price that we pay for getting to where we are in the evolutionary development.
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D'un anglais simple et avec beaucoup d'humour et de délicatesse, l'auteur nous raconte ses découvertes scientifiques et l'actualité des recherches sur l'évolution des espèces vivantes. Ce livre est vraiment très enrichissant
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Ce les livre semlble etre ecrit pour contrer les créationistes american. !c'était bon, mais je n'ai rien appris que je ne savais pas déjà.
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Amazon.com: HASH(0x8bd92dec) étoiles sur 5 485 commentaires
314 internautes sur 328 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8bdd0300) étoiles sur 5 a truly great book! 17 janvier 2008
Par David W. Straight - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
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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HASH(0x8bdd0fc0) étoiles sur 5 An excellent book about evolution 20 janvier 2008
Par Darby M'Graw - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Shubin does an excellent job of explaining the link between his two jobs: teaching human anatomy and studying fossil fish. He explains what evolutionary science, i.e. paleontology, comparative anatomy, genetics, embryology and developmental biology have to tell us about the human body, and how it came to be the way it is. Examples include the evolutionary history of limb bones in fossil tetrapods, developmental control genes found in almost all animals today, the evolutionary history of mammalian teeth, the origin of basic "body-plans," genetic comparisons of genes important for our senses of smell and vision, and the history of the mammalian inner ear. He presents some of the evidence each field has to contribute, explains how the findings of the various fields support each other, and relates it all to his own personal research experience. Shubin does this in a way that should be accessible and interesting to most readers. The book is very readable, especially the earlier chapters. Shubin's message is positively pro-evolution rather than attacking Creationism in a negative way.
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HASH(0x8bddec0c) étoiles sur 5 Fun book for a non-scientist 20 janvier 2008
Par Cathy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I didn't want to be able to pass a college course on paleontology, just pick up some interesting information, and this was a great book for me. I started browsing it because I liked the title, but the writing style really drew me in. Shubin is engaging, funny, and informative. He gives enough science background so you can understand the discussions, AND NO MORE. This book left me with a deep appreciation for the wonder of the modern human body. Great information for the casual reader!
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HASH(0x8bddefd8) étoiles sur 5 Embrace Your Inner Fish 25 janvier 2008
Par Carl Flygare - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
"What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so."

- Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act II, Scene II

In "Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body" author Neil Shubin, a biologist and paleontologist at the University of Chicago and the Field Museum, deftly answers Hamlet's '...what is this quintessence of dust?' query - the short answer is a highly modified fish!

How human 'form and moving,' along with 'noble in reason,' can be inferred from our deep-time ancestors is exciting science, eloquently explored in Shubin's lucid, engaging and accessible prose. Throughout his career Shubin's trendsetting approach split research between anatomical, biological, embryological and paleontological pursuits - all in an effort to understand the evolutionary and developmental mechanisms that transformed proto-limbs into fins, legs, wings, and in 'the paragon of animals,' hands (excuse the anthrochauvinism).

Shubin's innovative approach (integrative biology) was revolutionary in the late 1990s and fundamentally guided the development of evo-devo (evolutionary development), by bucking the trend toward increasing specialization encountered in many scientific disciplines. The insights generated by Shubin's multi-disciplinary approach helped identify which genes changed as lobe-finned fish transitioned into amphibians.

Today Shubin works in a crowded field, but continues to make spectacular discoveries. Peer-reviewed papers routinely depend on hypothesis synthesized from data provided by fossils, genes and embryos. Recently an experiment utilizing embryonic mice switched the mouse Prx1 gene regulatory element with the Prx1 region from a bat - although these species are separated by millions of years of evolution the resulting transgenic mice displayed abnormally long forelimbs.

In 2006 Shubin and his colleagues caught the world's attention with Tiktaalik roseae. This 370 million year old (mid Devonian) 'fishibian' exhibited many tetrapod limb features in its robust fins, including some wrist bones. While Tiktaalik roseae was being exhumed from the frozen artic - at a location predicted by geological, paleontological, and evolutionary theory - fellow researchers back in Chicago uncovered vital clues about the transition from ocean to terra firma by studying the genes that shape the fins of sharks and paddlefish.

"Your Inner Fish" weaves these and other discoveries into a brilliant anatomy lecture. Shubin deconstructs our eyes, ears, noses and hands to demonstrate the common ancestry shared by all extant (or extinct) animals. He also explains how networks of genes that initially express simple traits can expand through mechanisms such as gene duplication and genetic drift, creating networks that can build complex and novel structures such as jaws and heads (in vertebrates) evolved from primordial gill arches.

Quirky evolutionary relics - ranging from hiccups to hernias - are also explored. Thank your 'fish and tadpole past' for hiccups. Men painfully recapitulate the torturous path taken by the testacles during embryonic development whenever they develop a hernia later in life.

Throughout "Your Inner Fish" Shubin articulates how science works. Although creationism and Intelligent Design are refreshingly omitted, this book guts the pretensions and conceits prattled by latter-day lungfish pushing religious agendas in lieu of research and superstition instead of science.

This is a wonderful and insightful book. Highly recommended - excellent companion volumes include Relics of Eden: The Powerful Evidence of Evolution in Human DNA (reviewed seperately) by Daniel J. Fairbanks, Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters by Donald R. Prothero, At the Water's Edge: Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea by Carl Zimmer, and The Age of Everything: How Science Explores the Past by Matthew Hedman. For a more detailed technical discussion of early tetrapod evolution try Gaining Ground: The Origin and Early Evolution of Tetrapods by Jennifer A. Clack
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HASH(0x8bddef84) étoiles sur 5 Science as Celebration 28 janvier 2008
Par Saganite - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Shubin joins the ranks of the best science popularizers with "Your Inner Fish." A cross-disciplinary romp, from arctic fossil beds to genetic laboratories, Shubin shows how the human body carries within evidence of its simpler beginnings. Along the way you'll discover that dolphins have the genes to make odor receptors--but that the genes are "broken" because smell conveys little survival advantage to an air-breathing animal in the sea. That drinking makes us dizzy when alcohol invades the gel in our inner ear, creating a vertiginous lava-lamp-like concoction. And that "lotsa blobs" can be a useful scientific term. A lot of fun, the book still requires a little work, but the patience is well-rewarded with rich insights and provocative ideas. No one can walk away from this book believing that evolution is anything like a "theory in crisis." There was a fundamentalist book several years ago subtitled, "From Goo to You by Way of the Zoo." Shubin deftly and entertainingly demonstrates that this attempted insult not only contains elements of truth, but disgracefully misrepresents how awe-inspiring an understanding of the evolutionary process can be. Highly recommended. Would make a great companion volume to Carl Zimmer's "At the Water's Edge," which shares a similar reverently giddy tone.
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