aff. bff. cff. ...

Barry Roth barryr at UCMP1.BERKELEY.EDU
Sun Nov 14 11:40:36 CST 1993

Through the magic of net technology, we bring you the thought processes of
one 21st Century taxonomist as she scans a database:

Hmm, what's this?  "_Snailus_ sp., aff. _S. albus_."  Shit.  What's that
supposed to mean?  Let's see who ID'd it.  Barry Roth.  Shit.  He was so
enamored of that silly principle of grouping by synapomorphy (John
McNeill's later papers put an end to that foolishness).  So I guess when
he wrote "aff.," he meant that this specimen shared some derived character
with _S. albus_ but had some unique features as well.  Let's see the
scanned image of the label -- good thing this database stores binary
objects (good ol' Borland Co.).  Looks like Roth originally wrote it in
pencil.  Shit.  He must not have been too certain.  Why didn't he just use
a "?"  Oh wait, that was around the time of the XLVIIIth Congress (the
"Jensen" Congress) that tried to outlaw question marks in taxonomy.
Well-meaning, but human nature is human nature.  Besides, how can you
codify uncertainty?  Shit.  Too bad I can't see the specimen.  The Academy
of Biological Sciences sold off its collections to make room for interactive
displays.  That was right after NSF went bankrupt (they should have
listened to Jim Croft).  I don't suppose Pepsico even kept the records
of sale.  Shit.

Barry Roth

More information about the Taxacom mailing list