Review: ‘Your Inner Fish’ on PBS imparts smart human anatomy lesson


Neil Shubin, a paleontologist and evolutionary biologist, takes viewers through the roots of human anatomy in 'Your Inner Fish' on PBS.

Ever since Charles Darwin made his way to the Galapagos, we've heard a lot about that fateful moment when some previously water-bound creature pulled itself up from the slowly receding seas, took a breath and began the eons-long march to humanity.

What we didn't know was what that creature looked like and how, specifically, it relates to us.

Based on the bestselling book of the same name, "Your Inner Fish" is a six-hour, three-part documentary determined to do just that. Paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin, who wrote the book and hosts the series, is infectiously enthusiastic as he takes viewers on a tour of the human anatomy, its unexpected roots (subsequent episodes cover our inner reptile and our inner monkey), most important, and why they matter. The series premieres Wednesday on PBS.

"Your Inner Fish" concentrates on the miracle of the human hand, which is, as Shubin reminds us, the real basis of civilization. It also follows Shubin's personal quest to discover that missing link, the creature whose fins had developed the essential skeletal structure of a hand — one bone, two bones, a group of smaller bones — which made it capable of transitioning from water to land.

As with most discoveries of tremendous import, the search for the critter who would come to be known as Tiktaalik roseae was long and often tedious. Though it eventually took place in the wilds of Canada's Arctic, it was prefaced by years in the lab; even in the field, most of the labor was grueling, fastidious and, until it wasn't, fruitless.

Written By: Mary McNamara
continue to source article at


  1. I still have yet to hear the creationist counter about the fossil find being predictable by the Devonian age sediment it was found in. Without that knowledge of the age of the earth and the layer to look in finding Tiktaalik would have been difficult indeed.

  2. This was an excellent show, and promises to be a very informative series. I’m a bit proud that I was the one who submitted the news of the book’s publication a few years ago (can’t find it now…).

    I only hoped that a large number of fundies watched and paid attention. Even better if they watched the show immediately preceding: NOVA Inside Animal Minds- Bird Genius. All in all, a bad two hours for the faith heads.


  3. Devil’s advocate :/

    (edit) – I’ve only read a few of their “answers”, but each one has the same MO. Starts off reasonably well, as if they comprehend the subject, then bam(!), comes the guillotine. Cleanly severs science from goD – how else to give credence to their preposterous claims? A quote – if you resort to using force, something isn’t right.

  4. In reply to #5 by Agrajag:

    Get thee behind me, Satan! 😉

    Little early in the morning, ain’t it? Maybe after coffee 😉

  5. I must say some of the PBS science docs are tremendous.
    I saw one recently, on experiments with ultra cold material and how it almost nullifies internal quantum resistance to electron flow.
    I look forward to this!
    None acceptance of evolution and its ramifications is the sine qua non for stupidity!

  6. Shubin’s book did more for my understanding of evolution than any other popular book on the subject since “Selfish Gene”, back in 1976. It is awesome on a number of levels, not least of which is the shock insight into the least-effort nature of evolution’s problem solving. (Perhaps I should say evolution’s relieving of selection pressures.)

    This is evolution that will make perfect sense to the kludging engineer, those fast’n’dirty problem solvers who reach for the nearest doodad, make a few changes and behold…a hair follicle, a gland, a nipple.

    He made me look at nipples in a whole new way.

  7. In reply to #3 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #1 by Neodarwinian:

    I still have yet to hear the creationist counter about the fossil find being predictable by the Devonian age sediment it was found in. Without that knowledge of the age of the earth and the layer to look in finding Tiktaalik would have been difficult indeed.

    There a…

    Thank you. I wonder if I have that on my yahoo bar, which just happens to down and un-refreshable at the moment.

  8. I really enjoy gaining a deeper understanding of our inter-relatedness to all species and how we, as humans are fully embedded in the evolving Cosmos. I think i’m already aware of the basis for the topics listed above, but can always learn from someone else’s knowledgeable perspective.
    I will definitely tune in.
    Oh, and to still be even mentioning “creationism”… in all it’s bogus forms, is rather silly… as it has been made utterly irrelevant… and lost in the huge shadow cast by the towering edifice of Evolution of life on planet earth.
    Deus sive Natura.

  9. Now, how about suggesting to the Texas School Book authority that this series be shown to all middle and high school science classes every year. Almost everyone would clearly see that Intelligent Design was at hand here, only I D was crafted by organic evolution over eons of time and not by some benevolent bearded spook in the sky.

  10. Saw the third and final episode last night. “Your Inner monkey” probably didn’t sit well with some of our more “conservative” brothers! It was an excellent series, and I plan to buy it on DVD for periodic review.


  11. My thoughts exactly! It’s a powerful and clarifying concept – that even though species seem so different the fundamental development processes are essentially the same and tiny, tiny chemical tweeks can result in huge physiological changes.

Leave a Reply