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Your Inner Fish Crawls off the Page

ImageI’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.

ImageThe 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.

More on this later…

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Your Inner Fish on PBS

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Tiktaalik

The HHMI’s Tangled Bank Studios will be airing a three part PBS documentary based on Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin. The documentary, like the book of the same name, asserts that, “It took more than 350 million years for the human body to take shape.” And asks, “How did it become the complicated, quirky, and amazing machine it is today?” Broadcast is scheduled for Spring of 2014.

Perhaps this will be the last semester that we read the book in my General Biology class in favor of watching the film version and adding a new read to accompany the class. There are a lot of books I would like to go with, but here’s the opportunity for you to send your suggestions.

paleomaps

The Earth during the Devonian

While you’re at it, I am also starting to teach an Ecology / Genetics class next semester (offered for the first time at our campus) and would be interested to have your suggestions for a book to read with that class as well. So, please send your ideas for a fun reads (I would love to read The Selfish Gene, but have nixed it for failing in the ‘fun’ department) that you think students of General Biology and Ecology / Genetics should read.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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