I’ve been assigning Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish as a reading and discussion assignment in my General Biology classes for several years now. I believe that it’s a good introduction to understanding how the process of science works in the real world, it does a good job communicating the methods and findings of a number of complex experiments, and it also walks through the history of ideas and how new information changed these ideas over time.
If I can get students to think about all these things and perhaps do a little extra digging (into the research), then I’ve down my job.
Episode I of the adaptation of this book just aired this week and I was very impressed by the way the material was put together- refining the story from the book a little- and coming up with a standard documentary supported by computer graphics that really add to the story rather than looking tacky of fake. In fact, I think the graphics really transform the material into a living experience.
The story is told in two converging arcs. In one, we follow Shubin’s field work, where he decided that he was interested in finding the remains of one of the earliest organisms to crawl out of the water and establish terrestrial life. Prior work suggested that the earliest tetrapod ancestor on land emerged from the Devonian Seas about 370 Million Years Ago. Shubin and colleagues identified an ancient river delta of about this age in the Canadian Arctic and set out to locate some fossils.
The other story walks us through the idea of relationship with other life on Earth. What suggests this relationship? What evidence is there for it? How long does it go back?
As I said above, I have liked this adaptation very much so far and I am already planning to bring at least parts of this video into my classroom to supplement our discussions.
April 11, 2014 at 1:19 am
It’s a wonderful book. Sadly, the show is not available in Australia. Even the PBS page for it throws a “403 Forbidden” error. Same for the new version of Cosmos. In a couple of years time I may buy them both on DVD, if DVDs still exist then.
Here is a palaeontologist’s take on the first episode. He was also impressed.
Don Prothero, co-author of the geological survey atlas Neil Shubin used to locate his target rock formations when looking for early tetrapod fossils.
April 15, 2014 at 10:37 pm
This link shows “Your Inner Fish” is not real. Don’t be tricked by inner Ackbar evolution delusion fish story. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8jdoObwHHk