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I would add to Jaime's comments that photos sometimes show things that don't
exist. The placement of lighting during photography and the interplay of
shadows can be a major issue with interpreting photographs. A particularly
personal example occurred while I was writing up my Torosaurus description
recently--I had taken very careful notes and photographs when I was at the
museum, and then typed them into the manuscript. Later, back at home, I read
over the manuscript with the photographs beside me, to cross-check things.
In a close-up photo of the lateral surface of the skull, I noticed what
appeared to be a suture that I had missed--something very important for
phylogenetic analysis. It looked *incredibly* like a suture to me, based on
the photograph. . .however, careful checking with my original notes (taken
with the original specimen in front of me) revealed that this "suture" was
clearly a crack in the bone (I even went so far as to explicitly note it as
such, while at the museum). One wonders how often this potential mistake
happens when people try to interpret the squashed Chinese material from
photographs. . .
In favor of photographs, I will add that *sometimes* they can show the
difference between plaster and real bone (the Yale Toro skulls come to mind.
. .), although this must always be checked against the original.
Andrew A. Farke
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Box P301
501 E. St. Joseph St.
Rapid City, SD 57701