Skip to main content

Types

Type Specimens At UTC

Type specimens are the specimens that "anchor" the meaning of a name. They can be considered voucher specimens for a name. There are various classes of type specimens. The most important are holotypes, lectotypes, neotypes, and epitypes. Syntypes are arguably the next most important, followed by syntypes. Isotypes are duplicates of a type specimen. One can be more specific and classify isotypes as isolectorypes, isoneotypes, isosyntypes, etc. but we, along with many other herbaria do not do so.

We are currently creating a database of our type specimens, checking the class of each type. A preliminary summary of the herbarium's holdings is presented in the following table. count

  Fungi Lichens Plants
Holotypes (including photos) 2 57
Isotypes 8 1 1049
Paratypes 81 75
Other TYPES and Type photos

Plant: 38

NOTE: Fungal Paratypes are currently housed with the main fungal collection.

Classes of Type Specimens

Holotype: The person(s) first proposing the name stated which specimen was to be regarded as the type specimen. Current rules require that one state exactly which specimens one means and identify the herbarium in which it has been deposited.

Lectotype: The person(s) who first proposed the name did not designate a type specimen (this was legal prior to 1958) so someone else did so later. There are (as you might expect) strong recommendations about how one selects a lectotype. To find out more, consult the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.

Neotype: Sometimes holotypes and lectotypes are lost or destroyed. The most notorious instance of this was the destruction of all the types in the Berlin herbarium by allied bombing during World War II. When a holotype or lectotype ihas been destroyed or lost, a replacement specimen can be designated as the type specimen. The replacement type is called a newtype. And yes, there are some recommendations as to how neotypes should be selected.

Epitypes: Sometimes it is found that the existing type of a name does not have the features needed to distinguish it from other species. This happens sometimes when the original type specimen was a drawing (no longer legal except for fossils) or when it was not appreciated that what was being called a single spcies is actually two or more different species. In these circumstances, an epitype can be designated for the existing name. It must be consistent with the original use of the name. This then permits other specimens to be selected as the types for other names. Obviously, the specimen selected as an epitype should show all the characteristics currently used to distinguish the taxon involved from the taxa with which it had been confused.

Syntypes: In the bad old days when it was not necessary to list an individual specimen as a type, many taxonomists simply listed several specimens that they considered should be called by their new name. These specimens all have equal standing so far as being types are concerned and are called syntypes. Syntypes are sometimes called cotypes.

Paratypes: If a taxonomist lists several specimens as representing his new name but designates one of these specimens as the holotype, the non-holotype specimens are paratypes.

Isotypes: These are simply duplicates of a type specimen. They become important if the holo-, lecto-, neo-, or epitype is destroyed because they are the first choice as a replacement type (a neoneotype? theoretically possible).

Topotypes: Specimens collected from the same location as a type specimen. They have no nomenclatural significance.