In the study of many groups of animals, morphological analysis can be facilitated by the application of established statistical methods and criteria. In the case of Dendraster excentricus, a Pacific Coast sand dollar, quantitative analysis served to clarify the differences between two forms from dissimilar environments, and to provide a criterion by which a taxonomic decision may be reached. The use of similar techniques in paleontology can also lead to clarification of taxonomic difficulties.

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