Noted paleontologist Neil Shubin, renowned for his discovery of the so-called missing link between fish and land animals, is speaking at Vassar following screenings of the PBS series based on his best-selling book, Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5 Billion-Year History of the Human Body.
Shubin, a professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago, is also known for his ability to make science engaging and accessible. Jill Schneiderman, professor of earth science at Vassar, confirms this. “We're delighted to have Dr. Shubin speak at Vassar,” says Schneiderman. “Geoscientists and evolutional biologists know Shubin for his 2004 discovery of Tiktaalik roseae, the ‘fish with hands.’ But he also has a following outside the scientific community through his many public lectures, the broadcast of the documentary series based on his book, and his amusing appearance on the Colbert Report.”
The screenings of the three-part series Your Inner Fish will be held on three consecutive Sundays, February 8, 15 and 22, in Taylor Hall, room 203, 5:00pm, giving a local audience a chance to become familiar with Shubin’s work prior to his lecture. Shubin will speak on Tuesday, March 3, in Taylor Hall, room 102, 5:00pm. Dr. Shubin’s talk, as well as the screenings of the PBS film series, are free and open to the public. The screenings and lecture are cosponsored by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, Vassar’s Asprey Center for the Collaborative Approaches to Science as well as the Departments of Biology, Earth Science and Geography, and the Program in Science, Technology, and Society.
Shubin’s research focuses on the evolution of limbs, and he uses his diverse fossil findings to determine how anatomical transformations have occurred throughout the ages. His books Your Inner Fish and The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People, are both widely acclaimed. His research on anatomical features of animals has taken him all over the world; he has conducted fieldwork in much of North America, in Greenland, China, and in Africa. Demand from audiences clamoring to hear the story behind his discovery has led him to speak to diverse audiences. Shubin has published multiple scientific papers in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleobiology, as well as nearly 20 articles in the premier science journals Science and Nature.
Neurologist Oliver Sacks praised Your Inner Fish, calling the book “a compelling scientific adventure story that will change forever how you understand what it means to be human.” The Financial Times put it plainly, "If you want to understand the evolutionary history of man and other animals, and read no other account this year, read this splendid monograph.”
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