(Dan Dry/University of Chicago)

He made scientific history when he discovered a fossilized fish that was the “missing link” between land and sea creatures. Now paleontologist and popular science writer Neil Shubin is focusing his attention on the links between humans, rocks and plants — and how clues to the universe’s 14-billion-year history can be found in our bodies. Shubin joins us to talk about his new book, “The Universe Within.”

Guests:
Neil Shubin, professor, paleontologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, and author of "The Universe Within"

  • Guest

    Didn’t Joni Mitchell bring this to our attention in 1969? Enough with the “gee whiz” softballs. *What is the application of this research?*

    • johnqeniac

      yes, pioneering research that was scandalously ignored by the scientific community.

      • Guest

        It would just kill “the scientific community” to allow for interdisciplinary inspiration wouldn’t it? I love this blurry photo of the guest offering his research to us as if it were a sacrament.

  • johnqeniac

    It still seems like he (amazingly) left anthropocentric global warming entirely out because he was afraid of losing readers and therefore money.

    • chrisnfolsom

      What? I don’t think it was a money issue, you just can’t talk about everything. Besides Human history, while important now, has such a short history on earth – there is so much more history before us to discuss – although of course it matters quite a bit to us…

  • chrisnfolsom

    regarding the fossil record you have to look at the chance of a fossil actually forming from an animal – very small. And then the chance we see it – very very small. At any level you have to connect the dots and we have some pretty good good dots and they trend is to close them. Theories of punctuated evolution and others have resulted and we will refine it even more as we go along – it was only 150 years ago that we names “dinosaurs”….

  • FayNissenbaum

    “We are stardust, Billion year old carbon
    We are stardust, We are golden…

  • chrisnfolsom

    Regarding brain sizes – there are some “dead end” type physiological limitations like with many dinosaurs which had large muscles surrounding their brain case which didn’t allow much expansion of the brain case even though dinosaurs had millions of years to evolve – we (originally primates) have done this in only a few million and even hundreds of thousands of years – quite amazing and lucky…

  • chrisco

    The caller asks why do not all creatures have big brains because it has been so good for us. Well, considering the billions of species and the fact that only one has developed a brain that can type this sentence, then clearly such brains are not necessary to thrive. We can just as easily ask why did not all animals become like the grizzly bear, big and strong etc. Creatures adapt to niches, resources etc. And these things happen slowly over tens of thousands of years so a fly or a porcupine can’t react in a matter of a hundred years or so.

    Finally, our big brains have given us the ability to destroy practically all life on earth including ourselves. So given that only one creature has such adaptive intelligence, and this creature is on the verge of destroying itself and much else, it is far from clear that such intelligence has special adaptive value.

  • chrisco

    The caller asks about fossils and seems to be saying that there are missing links. Oh, it must have been God then because the evidence for that is really strong. Not!

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