Friday, April 12, 2013

Discovering your Inner Fish: Dr. Neil Shubin coming to Modesto Junior College on Friday, April 19

So what do you do if you want to find an ancestor to the earliest amphibians? You figure out where the oldest amphibians lived, and search the world for rocks that are slightly older, and represent the right environment that such fish would have inhabited. It takes a lot of detective work, and once you figure out some candidates in the sedimentary rock record, you start digging and searching, and hoping that your evidence was right. Especially if the rock layers you have chosen are in a cold barren environment where you have to keep watch over your shoulder for polar bears. That's essentially what Neil Shubin and his colleagues did, and in the frozen rock they hit pay dirt.

He discovered a "fishapod", a lobe-finned fish he called Tiktaalik roseae that had features that no other fish have: a flexible neck, a strong shoulders and wrist bones, features that would have allowed a creature to creep out of the water and onto land. It is the best fossil representing the transition from fish to amphibian that has ever been found.

Dr. Shubin is also an accomplished writer, and his book "Your Inner Fish" was a best seller. This makes it all the more exciting that the Associated Students of Modesto Junior College have invited Dr. Shubin to speak at MJC on Friday, April 19th. He will appear in the main auditorium of the Performing Arts Center at 5:00 PM, and following his comments, he will participate in a book signing.

I am thrilled that our students, especially Dimitri, the president of the MJC Geology Club, worked so hard to arrange this event. If you are anywhere near Modesto (it's only a bit over an hour from the Bay Area or Sacramento, not counting traffic), this is a rare opportunity, and I hope to see you there!

For more information and directions, call 209-575-6479 or email me at hayesg (at)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I just ordered his book. Keep up the good posts.