Entomologists do more....

Stan Blum sblum at VIOLET.BERKELEY.EDU
Fri Aug 4 17:33:31 CDT 1995

At 04:40 PM 8/4/95 -0700, Peter Rauch wrote:
>>From: Bruce Neill <bneill at LCLARK.EDU>
>>Subject:      Re: specimens examined lists, again

>>Why can't entomological collections be curated by lots and the specimens
>>examined be identified by lot numbers?

Not to detract from anything Peter said, but I think a more simple minded
answer is to be found in the handling/storage requirements of the specimens.
Non-terrestrial invertebrates are typically stored in containers (=lots) of
alcohol, whereas (most) insects are individually pinned.  How would one
physically create/denote (and then determine) the boundary for a lot of
individually pinned insects?  Pin all members of a lot in a single box?
Presumably this wastes too much space.  Label them all with the same lot
number?  Well, if you're going to number them all, why not give them all
individual numbers?  Numbers are cheap.

And in response to a previous comment concerning the ECN standard,
maximum-of-six-digit, identifying number (adding another digit requires
another megabyte of disk storage space)...  At today's prices of 40 cents a
megabyte, I still say numbers are cheap.

If it's worth looking at, describing, and then _keeping_ (presumably so
someone else might look at it), isn't it worth numbering?


PS  As institutions typically contain more than a single collection (e.g.,
USNM), some kind of collection-within-institution "acronym" must me added to
make specimen numbers unique, at least from a global perspective.  I don't
have the ECN standard in hand, but if it doesn't specify such a code, I
think it would be wise to add one in the next revision.

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