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New book reveals an evolutionary journey of the human body
Date:1/8/2008

ody. As one example, he uses Tiktaalik, which, besides its fish-like features, had a skull, a neck, ribs and parts of limbs similar to land animals.

In this extraordinary book, Neil Shubin takes us on an epic expedition to arctic wastelands, where his team discovered amazing new fossil evidence of creatures that bridge the gap between fish and land-living animals, said biologist and author Mike Novacek, vice president and provost of science at the American Museum of Natural History.

Ancient fish bones, Shubin writes, can be a path to knowledge about who we are and how we got that way. We learn about our own bodies in seemingly bizarre places, ranging from the fossils of worms and fish recovered from rocks from around the world to the DNA in virtually every animal alive on earth today.

While a graduate student at Harvard University, Shubin realized that fish, frog and chicken embryos looked alike and that there is a common architecture within all of them. For example, a fish and a human look identical for weeks after fertilization.

All of our extraordinary capabilities arose from basic components that evolved in ancient fish and other creatures, Shubin writes. We are not separate from the rest of the living world; we are part of it down to our bones and even our genes.

Humans can map their evolutionary history through DNA, he explains. How the human body is built is written in its genetic code, and scientists can compare that code with those of creatures as different as flies and fish. For example, appendages like wings, fins or limbs are built by similar types of genes. The transformation of fins into limbs didnt involve the origin of new genes, but rather, ancient onessuch as those involved in fin developmentwere used in novel ways to make limbs with fingers and toes.

Additionally, scientists turned to creatures such as flies, worms, yeasts, mice, and even microbes to better understand diseases. Shubin suggest
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Contact: Catherine Gianaro
catherine.gianaro@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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