[Taxacom] Sherborn & literature code challenge

Richard Petit r.e.petit at att.net
Fri Sep 2 08:04:57 CDT 2011

 You can index (?) 35 million pages but still not generate a usable work 
like Sherborn's Index Animalium.  I have yet to find any on-line data base 
where one can find not only the original combination for a taxon but also 
author and date (which is necessary to locate the original description and 
therefore know what a the name represents).  The most basic data needed by 
taxonomists cannot be generated through BHL scans (although it is hard to 
imagine doing without that great resource).  Putting Index Animalium on-line 
was a great help for those without a hard copy, but as with any such OCR 
transfer there are problems. There is a sometimes neglected tool in the 
on-line version of IA. After finding a name through the search function, it 
is possible to click on pg/tx and get a scan of the original page so a check 
for possible transcription errors can be made.

Really useful lists of taxa can only be generated by systematists who can 
recognize homonyms and also enter the correct date of publication.

The Linnean Society is planning to reprint "Squire", Sherborn's biography. 
It should be read by all systematists!

dick p.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Chuck Miller" <Chuck.Miller at mobot.org>
To: "Neal Evenhuis" <neale at bishopmuseum.org>; "Chris Thompson" 
<xelaalex at cox.net>; "taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2011 7:37 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Sherborn & literature code challenge

>I think they probably had a better social life then than we do now.
> Certainly, less distractions. No interrupting phone calls.  And all the
> whiskey and beer in those days was what we call "artisan" now.
> Not to take anything away from Sherbourn and his incredible
> accomplishment, but the astounding thing to me is that using BHL we can
> now index 35 million pages of botanical, zoological, ecological, et al
> literature in just a matter of minutes.  Then revise our methods, and
> run it all again discovering even more.  And a scientist on Easter
> Island can use all 35 million pages of it.  Freeing us all up to
> hopefully have a better social life.
> Chuck
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Neal Evenhuis [mailto:neale at bishopmuseum.org]
> Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2011 6:07 PM
> To: Chris Thompson; Chuck Miller; taxacom
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Sherborn & literature code challenge
> On 9/1/11 1:01 PM, "Chris Thompson"
> <xelaalex at cox.net<mailto:xelaalex at cox.net>> scribbled the following
> tidbit:
> Chuck:
> I fully understand what you are saying, but I need to note in regards to
> your statement:
> "... accept that the volume of those results could not be achieved by
> the available imperfect humans in several short lifetimes ..."
> That there was one man, who in a half of a life time, indexed all the
> Zoological literature published between 1758 and 1850. That was Charles
> Davies Sherborn, who produced the Index Animalium.
> We will celebrate him and his great achievement this coming October. See
> the announcement at the ICZN website (http://iczn.org/ )
> AND ... he did all of that without a computer.
> AND .. he actually had a social life too ....! :-)
> -Neal
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