The Mexican sierra [fish] has "XVII-15-IX" spines in the dorsal fin. These can easily be counted
... We could, if we
wished, describe the sierra thus: "D. XVII-15-IX; A. II-15-IX," but we
couldsee the fish alive and swimming, feel it plunge against the lines, drag it threshing over the rail,and even finally eat it. And there is no reason why either approach should be inaccurate.
description need not suffer because another approach is also used. Perhaps, out ofthe two approaches we thought there might emerge a picture more complete and even more accurate that either alone could produce.-- John Steinbeck,
Edward Ricketts, marine biologist (1941)