History is omnipresent in the natural world, from inside rocks on the continents to the genes, cells, and organs of each creature on the planet. Linking the historical records of rocks, fossils, and genes has been a boon to understanding the major events in evolution. We use these seemingly different lines of evidence as tools for discovery: analyses of genes can predict likely places to find fossils, and new fossils can provide the means to interpret insights from genetics. Viewed in this way, every living thing on Earth is the extreme tip of a deeply branched tree of life that extends three billion years into the past. Genes and fossils reveal how deeply connected our species is to the rest of the living world and the planet itself.
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© 2012 by Neil H. Shubin. All Rights Reserved.