The process of comparing and matching an unknown entity with a known entity; the known may be a specimen, an illustration, a photo, or electronic image.
The process by which an unidentified specimen is determined to be a member of a particular taxon. See also classification, nomenclature, systematics, and taxonomy.
To identify an organism is to determine which taxon it belongs to. An “accurate” identification is not only correct, but will identify an organism with a particular species. However, it is not at all unusual, in practice, that an identification can only be made to genus or even higher level. There are many possible reasons. Perhaps the organism being identified is incomplete; some part (e.g. a flower) which is necessary for a completely accurate identification is not present. This problem is particularly acute when it comes to identifying fossils, which are more commonly fragmentary than not. In some cases, the species may not have been previously recognized, or even if recognized, not described. In such cases, a relationship to a similar species which has been described might be indicated with an aff. indicating “affinity to,” or the less confident cf. meaning “compare with.