Your Inner Fish

(Rochester, New York) –  Why does the human body look the way it does? Why do our hands have five fingers instead of six? Why do we walk on two legs instead of four? It took more than hundreds of millions of years for the human body to take shape. Your Inner Fish explores the science of how the human body became the complicated, quirky, amazing machine it is today. Produced by Tangled Bank Studios and Windfall Films, the series is hosted by leading paleobiologist Dr. Neil Shubin and based on his best-selling book of the same name. Your Inner Fish, airing Wednesdays, April 9-23, 2014 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV, reveals a startling truth: Hidden within the human body is a history of life on Earth. 

The evolution of humans can be traced into the distant past, to the earliest forms of animal life on water and land. Each of us carries the genetic imprint of creatures that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. From those creatures we inherited our most remarkable features, as well as quirks like bad backs and hernias. Each episode of Your Inner Fish assembles evidence from comparative anatomy, fossils, genetics, and embryology to explore why we’re built the way we are.

This scientific adventure story takes viewers from Ethiopia to the High Arctic of Canada on a hunt for the ancestors that shaped our anatomical destiny. Host Neil Shubin has spent much of his life studying these ancient ancestors — searching for the deep pedigree of Homo sapiens. Using both the fossil record and DNA evidence, he traces various parts of the human body’s structure to creatures that lived long ago. This evidence can change the way we see our own bodies: Our hands become modified fins, and our jaws, teeth, even our brains reveal the past we share with ancient fish, monkeys, and worms.

Episode descriptions and air dates:

“Your Inner Fish” – Wednesday, April 9, 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV
Our arms, legs, necks, and lungs were bequeathed to us by a fish that lumbered onto land some 375 million years ago. The genetic legacy of this creature can be seen today in our own DNA, including the genes used to build the quintessentially human feature, our hands.

“Your Inner Reptile” – Wednesday, April 16, 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV
Key events in our evolutionary saga began about 250 million years ago, when ferocious, reptile-like animals that roamed the Earth started the process of evolving into shrew-like mammals. Our reptilian ancestors left their mark on many parts of the human body, including our skin, teeth, and ears.

“Your Inner Monkey” – Wednesday, April 23, 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV
Our primate progenitors had bodies a lot like those of modern monkeys and spent tens of millions of years living in trees. From them we inherited our versatile hands, amazing vision, and capable brains — but also some less beneficial traits, including our bad backs and terrible sense of smell.

Pictured: Neil Shubin in The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago.
Credit: Courtesy of Nathaniel Chadwick ©Tangled Bank Studios, LLC



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