Author: Neil Shubin
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Summary: Despite a very simple message, the author’s enthusiasm, plus clear prose and images, made this accessible and compulsively readable.
Paleontologist Neil Shubin primarily studies ancient fish, but he uses what he learns to gain new insights into human anatomy and our evolutionary past. By examining living and ancient fish, it’s possible to trace the history of many aspects of human anatomy. As he explains this history, we also get to learn about the process by which his lab continues to make new discoveries.
This book was a fantastic pop science book. The author’s enthusiasm shone through in every line. His prose was clear and easy to follow. Anywhere the prose might not be enough, there were helpful diagrams to fill the gap. I enjoyed learning about the process of paleontology and the pictures the author included of their campsites too.
My only complaint about this book is that I didn’t feel it was the science was very deep. The main concept the book introduced was that of evolution. The chapters on different body parts included a ton of fun facts, but still got repetitive after a while. I also wished the author talked more about the human health implications of the wet lab work he does. As is, it seemed as though his goal was primarily to discover the order in which evolutionary events happened and to me, that doesn’t justify the animal experiments he engages in. Overall, this was an enjoyable book, but I’d primarily recommend it to people without much science background and who aren’t bothered by sad animal experiments.