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Species Formula

    Abstract

    IN describing a beetle, for example, Dr. Icard chooses seven characters, always read in the same orderâ colour of thorax, colour of elytra, form of thorax, form of elytra, form of feet and tarsi, form of antennae, form of head. Each character, in a particular specimen, is represented by a numberâ the nombre signaletique or descriptive number, so that the total description of the specimen as regards specific characters may be represented by a series of numbersâ the formule signaletique or specific formula. We wish to identify a beetle; we translate one by one its characters into the appropriate number; then having composed our specific formula we search for this particular formula in another book of words, “Le Repertoire general”, and if we find the formula there we shall also find opposite it the name of the species which possesses this characteristic association of characters. It is an attractive idea that the plant and animal worlds should be so completely tabulated that a set of symbols would identify any of their members, and if the method would enforce upon describers of species definiteness in characterisation and brevity, it might be well worth a trial.

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