Your Inner Fish

Published 23 Oct 2017

As the chairman of the Department of Anatomy, University of Chicago, Shubin insists for us to trust that his discoveries are credible. In the third chapter of Your Inner Fish, he claims to have found genetic evidence for similarities between humankind and the animal kingdom. He links his archaeological discoveries with the development of limbs in human beings, and subsequently with DNA and genes, the work of the retinoic fluid and ZPA. Indeed, it is believable. Even the believers of God who have blatantly rejected the theory of evolution may refuse to reject the fact that all living beings on earth are related, somehow or the other. After all, we also consume animals in our daily diets. What is more, the discoveries of Shubin related in the third chapter of Your Inner Fish open for scientists a new world as far as medical science and the science of genetics are concerned. Perhaps human beings would be able to treat their deformed limbs with the genes of creatures from the animal world in the near future. Everything is possible in the mind of a scientist, just as God does not deny the fact that everything is possible if we believe Him.

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Indeed, Shubin allows the reader’s imagination to start running wild when he starts to explain the genetic evidence for similarities. Then again, as scientific research allows us to know our worth on earth better by comparing us to animals or lower forms of life found on the planet – believers in God are reminded of the fact that it is scientists like Shubin that take responsibility over the creatures of the earth, even if it only means that they allow us to help ourselves better (as with medical science) by knowing other living beings in greater depth.

In the clear and succinct Chapter Three of his book, Your Inner Fish, Shubin introduces to the reader the relevance of studying genes in evolutionary development biology. The author traces the evolution of human limbs from the fins of fishes to the wings of birds, before touching on human hands. The fact that there is genetic evidence available for the similarities is quite amazing. It is definitely not the first time that a writer has suggested that human beings have evolved from lower forms of life. The bewildering fact is that this is the time when scientists and philosophers of science contemplate improving the genes of humans. Many have written and thought about becoming geniuses by using the miracles of the science of genetics. Others have gone for face lifts instead of reflecting on genes. Regardless of the ways that humans desire to use scientific miracles to improve their lives – Shubin tells the reader that our genes are actually telling a different story altogether, that is, we are really not very different from the lower forms of life.

This is a humbling thought, especially at a time when human beings destroy other humans with guns and bombs. By exposing the reality behind our limbs, Shubin reminds us that we are actually related to the lowest forms of life that we know on earth. Are we flying too high by imagining that we can become God, taking life as we will? – Perhaps so. We are dependent on our limbs in our daily routine of trying to live life fully. ‘But, look at the birds,’ said Jesus Christ. What is more, by understanding the genetic evidence of similarities between humans and the lower forms of life on earth, the reader may very well start to believe that he or she is one with all life on the planet. At a time when global warming is almost always in the news, this is a special thought.


  • Shubin, Neil. Your Inner Fish. London: Allen Lane, 2008.
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