[Taxacom] Paper on one fly, but of general significance
paulbut at hotmail.com
Sat Nov 30 18:40:52 CST 2013
From a user's point of view, the more the better.
Besides a 'diagnostic' front view, I would not object to, or even welcome, a back view, a left side view, a right side view, a top view, a bottom view, a 3-D view ...
A SEM micrograph showing a character state common to all existing taxa will be most helpful when we come across a specimen that deviates in this particular state.
When offered a full-course for the same price, I would not insist on taking only the main dish. Even when I take only the main dish, the choice is mine.
Shiu-Ying Hu Herbarium
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
> Date: Sat, 30 Nov 2013 10:07:21 -0500
> From: calabar.john at gmail.com
> To: sepsidnet at gmail.com
> CC: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paper on one fly, but of general significance
> In principle, I am favorably inclined to the author's notion of 'more is
> better'. One sees almost the opposite in many publications on hominids
> where it is almost a case of 'less is better' where illustrations are
> minimal, relatively low resolution, and inadequate for further research by
> those who do not have direct access to the type/s. It has been suggested to
> me that this minimalism is deliberately designed to prevent anyone other
> than the discoverers or members of their clique from controlling
> interpretation of the evidence. Thank goodness this does not often extend
> to other groups.
> John Grehan
> On Fri, Nov 29, 2013 at 11:15 PM, Perochaeta cuirassa
> <sepsidnet at gmail.com>wrote:
> > Thanks for the discussion of the paper. We expected that these points would
> > be raised. That’s why they are addressed in the paper. Just to summarize:
> > It took one day to do all the digital images and another 3 hours to do the
> > SEM. Compare this with trying to sort out what de Meijere and Duda were
> > trying to describe via text and diagnostic drawings. This took much longer
> > including the time of Lengyel in Budapest who helped by photographing the
> > type.
> > Let’s assume for a second that the de Meijere had the equipment and
> > publication tools that we have today. He could have illustrated the
> > holotype and still provided the rudimentary description that was adequate
> > at his time. We could have ignored the shortcomings of his description and
> > relied on the images of the holotype. We would have been done with the
> > identification in 20 minutes. de Meijere didn’t have the tools and
> > opportunities, but we do. Should we ignore this and continue as ever? This
> > depends on whether we are confident that our current descriptions will be
> > adequate for the next 100+ years. To judge this, we can go back in history.
> > Diptera taxonomy is all about the discovery of an increasingly large number
> > of characters that have to be considered for species description and
> > identification. We have some indication from molecular data, that there are
> > more species out there than we currently distinguish based on our current
> > morphological, diagnostic tools; i.e., we already know that our current
> > diagnoses will be inadequate before soon. So, should we incorporate this
> > knowledge into taxonomic practice? We think we should because not doing so
> > is creating work for the future generation of taxonomists. They will
> > consider our current descriptions focusing on currently diagnostic features
> > as inadequate as we consider de Meijere’s descriptions today. De Meijere
> > didn’t have a choice. We do.
> > In a way, the time that we can save today by not “over-illustrating” is the
> > time that we take away from future users. If it was a 1:1 time exchange, we
> > would agree that we shouldn’t do this. However, as discussed earlier,
> > tracking down types and making sense of inadequate diagnoses takes a lot
> > more time than including a few additional images. Of course, we agree that
> > current descriptions should highlight characters that are diagnostic by
> > today’s standards. That’s why we have a section highlighting the diagnostic
> > differences of all described 6 species of Perochaeta. We didn’t do a key
> > because reading this section will do the trick without being too tedious.
> > Yuchen and Rudolf
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