interactive keys and others

Una Smith una.smith at ATT.NET
Mon Mar 13 08:08:32 CST 2006

Concerning the fragmentary nature of some specimens to be identified,
particularly fossils, I have a slightly contrarian view.  My PhD
dissertation involved identifying a fragmentary fossil.  I had trouble
not with my fossil, but with the fragmentary nature of comparative data
for extant taxa!  INTKEY and Les Watson's angiosperm families data set
were invaluable:  they helped me focus very precisely on those missing
characters for extant taxa that were necessary to "identify" my fossil.
This fragmentation, often due to selective omission of published data
from compendium books (for economic reasons), may impede identification
regardless of whether the specimen in hand is fragmentary or complete.

My thanks again to Les Watson for providing me his source data files.
Having those files was not necessary, but certainly was very helpful.

        Una Smith
        Los Alamos, New Mexico

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