Your Inner Fish


Neil Shubin

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Themes and Colors
Similarities Between All Animals Theme Icon
History of Life  Theme Icon
Understanding Complex Concepts Through Simple Analogies Theme Icon
Scientific Discovery Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Your Inner Fish, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Similarities Between All Animals

The main project of Your Inner Fish is outlining the similarities among all animals, even those that look entirely different. Shubin focuses on the human body, comparing human anatomy to the anatomy of fish and other animals and arguing for ways that human anatomy may have developed from these other structures through evolution. These shared features may not be immediately noticeable, but can be traced through study of the fossil record and genetic research. In…

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History of Life

Your Inner Fish follows the path of life on Earth as it has developed and changed over time. Following the adaptations in a process called “descent with modification” is one way that scientists figure out where humans fit in among all life on Earth. From the basic law that every living thing on Earth had parents, scientists can build a family tree that traces the development of life from humans all the way…

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Understanding Complex Concepts Through Simple Analogies

After noting the similarities between different animal species, Shubin explains how studying the anatomy of simple animals can provide a tool to understand how the anatomy of complex animals works. This approach takes advantage of the ways that these animals are similar as a starting point to focus on the ways that species differ. Shubin uses the anatomy of relatively “simple” animals such as fish, sponges, or bacteria to make it easier to understand what…

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Scientific Discovery

As Shubin explains the significance of discoveries like the fossil Tiktaalik or the fly genome project, he also celebrates the journeys that humans take to make these discoveries. Shubin intersperses his writing with episodes of his expeditions to the Arctic or other fossil fields and describes the work that goes into finding just one fossil. This makes the journey to finding the fossil as important and exciting as the discovery itself. Shubin also gives short…

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