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For further information, contact the MBL Communications Office at (508) 289-7423 or e-mail us at comm@mbl.edu

For Immediate Release: September 23, 2009
Contact: Gina Hebert, (508) 289-7725, ghebert@mbl.edu

Neil Shubin

Renowned Paleontologist Neil Shubin to Discuss Missing Link Between Ancient Fish and Humans at MBL Falmouth Forum Kickoff, October 9

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—Award-winning scientist and author Dr. Neil Shubin will discuss how the discovery of a 375 million-year-old fossil fish has led to a new understanding of the interconnectedness of all life at the Falmouth Forum season opener Friday, October 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the MBL’s (Marine Biological Laboratory’s) Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole. Dr. Shubin’s lecture, titled Finding Your Inner Fish, is sponsored by the MBL Associates and is free and open to the public.

In 2006 Dr. Shubin, a leading paleontologist and professor of anatomy at the University of Chicago, co-discovered an ancient fossil fish whose flat skull and limbs, and finger, toe, ankle, and wrist bones provided a "missing link" between fish and the earliest land-dwelling creatures. The discovery made headlines around the world and greatly expanded knowledge about the origins of life.

In his Falmouth Forum lecture, Dr. Shubin will talk about discovery: How do we find fossils, and how do we know where to look? Some of the most important discoveries come when we link these fossils to new data from genetics and developmental biology and find the deep connections that we have to the rest of life on our planet. When we look at the world in this way, even an ancient fossil fish tells us something about ourselves.

Dr. Shubin is the Robert R. Bensley Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago and Provost at the Field Museum. Educated at Columbia and Harvard, he has found new fossils that change the way we think about many of the key transitions in evolution: from the reptile-mammal transition, the water-land transformation, and the origin of frogs, salamanders, turtles, and flying reptiles. These discoveries have emerged from his expeditions to Greenland, the High Arctic of Canada, Argentina, China, Morocco, Nova Scotia, and the deserts of the U.S. Author of numerous scientific papers, he has received many fellowships and awards including a Miller Research Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, The Berlin Prize and ABC News Person of the Week. Dr. Shubin is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In his 2008 book, Your Inner Fish: A Journey Through the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body (Pantheon Press), Dr. Shubin tells the story of evolution by tracing the organs of the human body back millions of years, long before the first creatures walked the earth.

A buffet dinner is available before the lecture at 6:00 p.m. in the Swope Center located near the auditorium. Dinner tickets are $25 and must be purchased in advance at either Eight Cousins Children’s Books, Main Street, Falmouth, or at the MBL’s Communications Office in the Candle House, 127 Water Street in Woods Hole. Dinner seats are limited and tickets are only available until they sell out or until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 6th. All tickets are nonrefundable. For more information contact the MBL’s Communications Office at 508-289-7423.

Copies of Finding Your Inner Fish will be available for sale in the Lillie Auditorium lobby before and after the lecture.

All Falmouth Forum lectures, performances and presentations are sponsored by the MBL Associates for the Cape Cod community and feature topics in the arts, humanities and health. They are always free and open to the public.

The series will continue throughout the fall and winter. The remaining lectures in the series are:

November 6
"Our Water Our World" - Deborah Cramer, Visiting Scholar, Earth System Initiative, MIT

December 4
"Athletes--today's role models good or bad?" - Carl Beane, "The Voice of Fenway"

January 8
Herman T. Epstein Endowed Memorial Lecture - "Starting at Standing Rock: Following Custer and Sitting Bull to the Little Big Horn" - Nathaniel Philbrick, author

January 22
"Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Two Works in Progress: Over the River, Project for the Arkansas River, Colorado; The Mastaba, Project for The United Arab Emirates" - Christo and Jeanne-Claude

March 5
"The Big Dig or The Big Pig?" - Dan McNichol, award-winning author of The Big Dig and The Roads That Built America

For more information and for full lecture descriptions, visit http://www.mbl.edu/falmouthforum.


The MBL is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Americas. For more information, visit www.MBL.edu.

The MBL Associates are a group of individuals and businesses that support the scientific mission of the MBL through their gifts to the Annual Fund. The Associates sponsor educational and research programs for the MBL and raise funds for special projects. In addition, they operate the MBL Associates Gift Shop, located on Water Street in Woods Hole, the profits from which support scientific fellowships.