Neil Shubin - Your Inner Fish

Continuing this week's theme of evolution, today we have a great lecture by Neil Shubin describing Tiktaalik, one of the most remarkable transitional forms in the fossil record, marking the evolutionary transformation from fish to tetrapod, which is the lineage that would eventually lead to us, so it's a pretty big deal.

One of the most beautiful things about this discovery is that it shows the power of good scientific theories in general and evolutionary theory in particular, since it required that Shubin's successful team of paleontologists not only look for these fossils in exposed rocks of the right age, of the right type and in the right place, but to think about looking for them to begin with, and this idea can only come about if you take evolution seriously and understand that the basic architecture of our body plan is simply a variation of a theme with a long history of slow and gradual change that started all the way back in fish.

Actually, as Shubin beautifully describes in his book, the genetic essentials of our body plan can be traced all the way back to jellyfish, sponges and even bacteria... fish are just a nice, convenient place to tell the story, but just as arbitrary a place to start as australopithecus afarensis or rodents.

To learn more about transitional forms and evolution, check out this great documentary on Great Transformations.
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