Book of

Your Inner Fish, by Neil Shubin

A brisk tour of evolution from fish to mammal, especially our limbs and heads, with sidelights on how to cut up human bodies and how to find fossils:

Chuck and I would look at the same patch of ground. I saw nothing but rock–barren desert floor. Chuck saw fossil teeth, jaws, and even chunks of skull.

Chuck was extraordinarily patient with me as I pestered him with questions for the better part of each day’s walk. I wanted him to describe exactly how to find bones. Over and over, he told me to look for “something different” … It sounded easy, but I couldn’t grasp what he was telling me.

All of a sudden, the desert floor exploded with bone; where once I had seen only rock, now I was seeing little bits and pieces of fossil everywhere, as I were wearing a special new pair of glasses and a spotlight was shining on all the different pieces of bone.

Twenty years later, I know that I must go through a similar experience every time I look for fossils someplace new … The difference is that now have some confidence that a search image will kick in eventually.”


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