Thomas Hayden
February 08, 2008 AT 05:00 AM EST

Humans might seem unique. But we’re actually just ”a mosaic of bits and pieces” from previous creatures, says Shubin in an intriguing but flawed look at the human body through the lens of its evolutionary history. Even hiccups, it turns out, can be blamed on a 400-million-year-old fish. Shubin connects with sections on his own work discovering fossils, and on the sometimes surprising roots of modern human complaints. But the paleontologist can’t escape his own academic history — much of Your Inner Fish reads like a cross between fleshed-out lecture notes and a dummed-down textbook. The engaging tale at its heart survives, but barely. C+

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