Language of Descriptions

Stuart Fullerton stuartf at PEGASUS.CC.UCF.EDU
Fri Oct 27 10:58:38 CDT 1995

yes yes yes

Cheers! in the almost autumn (next week?) rof

Stuart M Fullerton ROF, Research Associate in charge of Arthropod
Collections (UCFC), Biology Dept. University of Central Florida, Orlando,
Florida, 32816, USA. stuartf at

On Thu, 26 Oct 1995, MICHAEL A. IVIE wrote:

> The discussions from Botanists show a real difference from the realities
> of zoology.  We have families of animals that are larger than all the
> flowering plants together, yet far fewer (like 2 orders of magnitude fewer)
> animal systematists per species.  Botanists describe only a few (relative
> to zoology) species per year, with lots of specialists.  Because things
> are so well known, and there are so few per specialist, botanists seem
> content to be able to read only the descriptions of new taxa, which are
> the only things in latin (and often that "description" is really a
> diagnosis).
> Zoologists, on the other hand, work in a different world.  For many of
> us, 90% of our organisms remain undescribed.  Any given description by
> itself is relatively useless when the next new thing pops up.  We need
> to read the whole paper!  Most of what I find useful in a paper is outside
> the diagnosis.
> Lastly, because there are so many botanists with so few species to describe,
> botany can afford a few latin scholars to check descriptions.  Note that
> both the recent botanists replying mentioned having this done.  Zoology
> doesn't have this luxury.  Imagine the equivelant of redescribing all the
> vascular plants from scratch every 10 years!  Your latin scholars would
> be swamped.
> In short, zoologists have a different problem, and the botanical solution,
> while quaint, is not a good model for us.  We are glad you are happy with
> it, but it just won't export.
> Besides, since the latin description is only required in the original
> descriptions, how do you evaluate any subsequent revisions?  Surely the
> descriptions in Chinese in a 1989 monograph are more important that the
> original description of that same species, in latin, from 1840?
> Mike Ivie

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