“Your Inner Fish” television series

February 18, 2014 • 7:52 am

My Chicago colleague Neil Shubin is about to host a three-part PBS series on his book Your Inner Fish and its explication of the evolutionary origin of the human body. As the new website notes:

Have you ever wondered why the human body looks the way it does? Why our hands have five fingers instead of six? Why we walk on two legs instead of four?

It took more than 350 million years for the human body to take shape. How did it become the complicated, quirky, amazing machine it is today?

Your Inner Fish delves deep into the past to answer these questions. Premiering Wednesday, April 9, 2014, the three-part series reveals a startling truth: Hidden within the human body is a story of life on Earth.

The site has a lot of stuff; you can find the trailer and 15 education clips, for instance, here, and teacher/classroom resources are here. There are also many other scientists involved who will talk about vertebrate evolution (you can see their bios here).

This will be one to watch if you have any interest in evolution. And be sure to bring the kids!

Pictured near where it was found is a Tiktaalik roseae fossil — one of the most complete of the dozens of specimens discovered to date.

46 thoughts on ““Your Inner Fish” television series

  1. He kindly signed his book for me last year I think it was when he came to London at the Royal Institution. I would love to go the Arctic fossil hunting! Though the flies can be bad…

    1. I would love to go on an expedition like that too. I have no expertise to offer but, heck, I’ll be the pack mule, the gopher, and the all around general purpose “do boy.”

      One of my true regrets in life was not accepting an offer to go on an expedition to do an underwater excavation of an ancient Greek ship back during my 1st or 2nd year of university. Though most expenses were taken care of some small amount would be needed and I decided I couldn’t do it. What a fool! Kids can be so stupid sometimes.

          1. Ha ha! Depends if you’re Indy or Lara Croft. I you’re Lara Croft you get a nice assortment of tech including cool cars & motorbikes.

            1. and I know those characters are archaeologists not palaeontologists – what did they have in Jurassic Park? Just lawyers and kids. Clearly Hollywood sees archaeologists as cooler.

            2. I think the most impressive technology in the video games was the subroutine they had to have somebody write to make her boobs bounce the way they did — along with the psychological and marketing insight as to why the effort was valuable for the company’s bottom line.


  2. I am really looking forward to this one. Your Inner Fish is, in my humble opinion, one of the best examples of a scientist relating his work to the general public in book form that I know of. Not to mention that the subject matter is really fricking interesting too.

    I really hope the documentary is at least within spitting distance of the book.

    1. It sounds fantastic, and I will surely watch it. I can only ponder very sad reasons why someone would not be interested in such a subject.

    1. Seconded! One of the only problems I can see with this idea is that our host (all praise to his twitching whiskers) seems to hate seeing himself perform. He wouldn’t be able to watch the rushes.

      1. If I may be so bold, our esteemed host needs to get over it. He’s a wonderful public speaker and would be perfect for this sort of TV series. His short bit at the Grand Canyon with the BBC and the British creationists demonstrated that quite well.


  3. I posted about this a few weeks ago and people outside the US could not access the PBS web site for the series. Has that been corrected?

          1. I think we will be able to in Canada – it’s just the annoying restriction in streaming content over the Internet. I’m going to start looking for it on my PVR.

            1. When we lived in Alberta our PBS Station was Spokane – same time zone. 14 years ago we moved to British Columbia and our PBS Station is Detroit, three time zones away – go figure !!!

              1. How weird. I think mine is Boston (I’m in Ontario) but I may get a few different ones.

              1. Thanks! I found this too but it’s a total teaser. You don’t get the stark, white contentless page with the “forbidden” server error so you think “yay!” but then all the videos are blocked.

  4. I am really looking forward to this program! Loved the book! I wrote this program on my calendar so I don’t forget.

    Last year I got to meet Don Johanson at a talk he gave about the discovery of Lucy. He very graciously signed my book for me and actually chatted a bit. Would love to meet Neil Shubin sometime, too!

  5. I applaud Neil for this, but I have a (fish)bone to pick with him – when Your Inner Fish was published, apparently he had not had time to study the rear limbs of the beasty. Rather than acknowledge this and simply say that study of tiktaalik/ was still in progress, he ignored the back half of it completely, including the fact that none of the books illustrations even show the rear limbs. I feel this gives ammo to the creationists to accuse real scientists of not being fully truthful.

    1. At the time I wrote FISH I didn’t have the hind fins nor did I see any prospect of obtaining them. Fortunately, I was wrong…..

      1. Oh, that’s surprising! I thought you had multiple specimens. Did none of them have hindquarters? How complete are the specimens we currently know about?

        1. Also, do you think you might make a new edition of FISH that includes the hind fin data?
          I would so like to read that!

  6. I am quite excited about this. I loved the book and have recommended it to many of my creationist friends but never had anyone actually read it. But as a PBS documentary this will be much less intimidating to those who aren’t inclined to read science/evolution books.

    1. I hope they don’t plug their ears during the documentary when they inevitably say, “transitional fossils”. 😉

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