Holotypes (Digital shipping)

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 2 14:27:14 CDT 2002


Dear All,
      In the future, I would imagine holotypes will be increasingly
inspected via electronic image databases.  A check of images online may
suffice in many cases---for example, the shape of the genitalia in spiders
(if you don't already have it available in the original description).  And
gene sequences will begin supplementing (or even replacing) morphology
(bacteriology has already made this transition through necessity).
      My question is this.  In the meantime, wouldn't it sometimes be faster
for a curator to electronically photograph the relevant parts of a holotype
(and e-mail the images), rather than going through all the paperwork and
packaging of the holotype?  Thus more economical and safer for the specimen
itself.
      I imagine this has been done many times, but perhaps many more times
it isn't done and the holotypes have been shipped out unnecessarily (because
that's the way it's always been done)----- when it would have been much
faster and cheaper to place it under a microscope mounted with an electronic
camera (or without the microscope for larger structures).  Especially if you
need to check just one or two characters (as opposed to a whole bunch of
different characters).  Is such a flexible approach already replacing the
old "pack them up and ship them out" and hope they make it there and back?
Just curious.
         ---- Thanks,  Ken



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