Aff., etc., continued

richard jensen FNPFR3 at IRISHMVS.BITNET
Sun Nov 14 11:06:00 CST 1993

John McNeill writes that I am completely wrong?  In what sense.
Am I wrong in stating that a discipline such as taxonomy needs
well-defined rules and procedures?  Am I wrong in trying to clarify
what is meant by aff. or cf.?  I take it that John means I am wrong
if I expect a database to reflect everything that is or might be
on a label.  I have no disagreement with using a simple "?" to
reflect uncertainty in the database format.  But, I would then hope
to fing more than a simple "?" on the label itself.  If all one does
in annotating is to place a ? on every specimen of uncertain affinity,
then one may as well not bother to annotate them.  I would hope that
the taxonomic expert would place such notes as aff. and cf. on
questionable specimens.  But, it would be nice if we all understood
what was meant by aff. vs cf. vs. ?.

I agrre with John's response on the issue of phylogenetic fight.  His
Syst. Zool. paper is a good read for all interested in the problem of
choosing a single classification to reflect what we know
about the taxa in question.

Cheers to all,
Dick Jensen
fnpfr3 at

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