I was there two weeks ago. I was at the American Museum of Natural History. I had four jars in front of me. Inside these jars were five fish and one. Another species. I was expecting to do a routine revision of characters and to confirm an identification of additional specimens of a new species. I was up for a surprise. Among the ones that looked familiar there was one that was different. What to do?
I showed the fish to two colleagues and both agreed. It was different from the others in the jars. I went to get coffee with my friend who studies bats. And he told me about one bat. One that had teeth different from all others. One that was similar to another species and ultimately it was the same species. What to do?
I talked about fishes.
I looked at them.
I observed them carefully and thought about their traits.
I was elated, energized, happy as a child. I was conversing fishes, talking about the people that studied them. I was swimming deep into the mysteries of variation and differentiation, going through maps, and creeks, and rivers.
I was dreaming about speciation.
I want to be there again.
I want to be in the place of preserved fishes. Where specimens pose in front of me to be studied and to be understood, awaiting for their truths to be revealed. The place were history makes sense in the light of discovery, and adds to our present knowledge.
I will be there.
Because there is nothing else I can do.