The fins to feet fairy tale
Neil Shubin's Inner Fish
By examining fossils and DNA, he shows us that our hands actually resemble fish fins, our heads are organized like long-extinct jawless fish, and major parts of our genomes look and function like those of worms and bacteria. Your Inner Fish makes us look at ourselves and our world in an illuminating new light.
Calling the three-part, prime-time PBS special Your Inner Fish an "enthralling examination of the ancient animal ancestry in the fossil record and in our own bodies," the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine named Neil Shubin, the Robert R. Bensley professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago. ... "We enjoyed an embarrassment of riches this year, with outstanding entries representing a tremendous diversity of scientific subjects," said May Berenbaum, NAS member and chair of the communication awards selection committee, and professor and head of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Choosing the best among the best was difficult but the winners are exemplars of how excellent popular science writing can make complex science understandable, relevant, and thoroughly engaging." ... Your Inner Fish has also been nominated for two Emmy awards, for graphics and for science.
The oldest known tracks of a four-limbed land animal could rewrite part of vertebrate evolution. ... This would mean that large, land-roaming tetrapods would have coexisted for 10 million years with the elpistostegids — including Tiktaalik roseae, which lived 375 million years ago — a group thought to mark the transition of from fish to land-roaming animals.
If the scientists behind this new research are correct then tetrapods evolved much earlier than we previously supposed, and what we have taken up till now as the general evolutionary sequence of forms in early tetrapod evolution are actually disparate forms which are part of a more complex radiation of early tetrapods. In this case, as the authors note, creatures like Tiktaalik did not quickly give way to early tetrapods but lived alongside them for 10 million years or more.