Grandma and Grandpa Guppy: Our Family Tree

Inspired by the NPR interview with Neil Shubin, I sought out more information about his new book, Your Inner Fish, and humans' evolutionary ties to fish in general. I came across a NY Times article that outlines our fishy heritage. Some traits we might have actually thought would differentiate humans from the fish folk, surprisingly are the ones fish have passed down to us. In fact, fish are the longest living vertebrates, having developed teeth that allowed them to stake their claim in evolutionary tides and continue evolving over a period of 550 million years. 365 million years ago, they used a little elbow grease and climbed onto dry land.

Some things we take for granted that originated with fish:
  • a head with a brain protected by a skull, surrounded by sensory organs
  • sensory organs in pairs
  • appendages in pairs
  • hinged mouth with teeth and tongue
  • upright backbone, cranial nerves, and basic wiring
  • a menopausal period of life for females
  • migratory skills and gene shifts that paralleled human migrations
  • social behaviors, such as
    • cooperation and assisting
    • family units with a dominant pair who are aided by helpers to raise young; helpers, in exchange, are protected against predators.
But as the world changes, I have to wonder, how is our evolutionary path being shaped by technology and pharmaceuticals? At this point, we can look back and see our connection to other inhabitants of the planet clearly laid out in a nice family tree. After the next evolutionary step (if we're still around), what will humans see when they look back?
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  1. Anonymous11:48 AM

    This book also notes that the male testes once were up near their chest. As they lower with evolution it made makes more susceptible to hernias.

  2. Anonymous1:31 AM

    I wonder if humans will be the ones looking back...
    who knows what it is that's going to look back and try to find the links between them and you creatures. ha!


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