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If you think that feathers arose to help animals fly or lungs to help animals walk on land, you’d be in good company. According to paleontologist Neil Shubin, you’d also be entirely wrong. Shubin comes to Town Hall with an exploration of the momentous evolutionary transformations that have defined life on our planet—ancient fish evolving to walk on land, reptiles transforming into birds that fly, and apelike primates becoming humans that walk, talk, and write. Guiding us on the first step from single-celled organisms towards complex beings with bodies, Shubin draws from his book Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA to delve into the mysteries of life.
He describes how discoveries of the past fifty years have revolutionized our understanding of how we got here, and brought us closer to answering one of the great questions of science: was life on earth inevitable or is it an accident that we are here at all? With insight into the latest DNA science and research into prehistoric fossils, Shubin grants us a window into a multibillion-year evolutionary history filled with twists and turns, trial and error, accident and invention.
Neil Shubin is a paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and author of Your Inner Fish and The Universe Within. He is the Robert R. Bensley Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago, and he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2011.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.