Types of 'types'
Roger J. Burkhalter
rjb at OU.EDU
Mon Nov 13 10:41:49 CST 2000
I have been working for the past year or so to finally get a grasp on what
our Invertebrate Paleontology collections hold. We have a very fine
collection which will certainly be of interest and use when we finally get a
catalogue published of what we hold. Currently, I have a database listing
8,236 primary type and figured specimens from published papers. These only
include holotypes, paratypes, neotypes, lectotypes, paralectotypes, and
figured specimens. Many collection web sites and/or published paper
catalogues include tertiary types such as topotypes, homeotypes, plesiotypes
and the like. These 'types' are not recognized by the ICZN but are useful,
particuarly in morphologic/distribution studies and for exchange. We would
have several 10's of thousands of these tertiary types (particuarly
topotypes). My question is this...do I include all of these tertiary 'types'
in our lists? As I see it, it would make a searchable on-line database slower
to search and a published catalogue a lot thicker (guestamates of 20,000-
25,000 additional specimens). On the other hand, adding these items to the
total would 'level the playing field' with other collections in a competative
I do have an old published list of some of the myriad types of 'types'
compiled (in his words) by C.E. Decker (Curator at OU from 1916 to 1943):
DEFINITIONS OF KINDS OF TYPE SPECIMENS
(ref: Dr. F.B. Horrell in Geological Society of America Bulletin, Vol. 49,
1929, p, 219)
Holotype - A single specimen on which a new species or subspecies is based.
Cotype (or Syntype) - Two or more specimens on which a new species or
subspecies is based, no one specimen being designated as the holotype.
Paratype - A specimen mentioned as having been used in addition to the
holotype in preparing the original description of a new species or subspecies
for which a holotype is designated.
Lectotype - A single specimen selected by a later worker from the original
cotypes of a species or subspecies as the holotype of that species or sub-
species when the later worker finds that the original cotypes do not all
belong to a single species or subspecies.
Neotype - A specimen selected to ta~:e the place of an original tvpe of a
species or subspecies when the original type has been lost. A neotype may be
either a neohololype or a neocotype.
Plesiotype (or Hypotype) - A specimen which was not used in the original
description of a species or subspecies, but which is used for a later
description or figure of it.
Heautotype: - A specimen figured by an Author as an illustration of a species
or subspecies which had previouslv been described as new by him. This is
really only one particular kind of a plesiotvpe.
Allotype - A specimen chosen by the original author of a species or
subspecies, in addition to the holotype to show some part of the body not
shovn in the holotvpe, This is really only one particular kind of a paratype,
if it is chosen at the time when the species or subspecies is originally
described, If chosen later, it is a particular kind of a plesiotype.
Onomatype - A specimen which has been cited in print (a cited scecimen), but
which has not been used to illustrate anything not previouslv known about the
morphology of the species or subspecies to which it is referred.
Morphotype - A specimen which has been figured in print (a figured specimen),
but which has not been used to illustrate anything not previously known about
the morphology of the species or subspecies to which it is referred.
Topotype - A specimen collected from the same horizon as the original
holotype or cotypes and from the same locality as the originals, or within a
few miles of that place.
Metatype - A topotype identified by the original describer of the species or
subspecies to which it is referred, but at a date subsequent to the
publication of the original description.
Homeotype - A specimen that has been identified by a worker who is recognized
as an authority on the group of organisms to which it belongs, after the
specimen has been carefully compared by, him with the original type or types
of the species or subspecies to which it is referred.
Ideotype - A specimen collected from some other general locality than the
original type (that is, not a topotype) that has been identified by the
original author of the species or subspecies to which it is referred at a
date subsequent to the publication of the original description. This is like
a metatype, except that it does not come from the general locality from which
the original type specimens of the species or subspecies were collected.
Roger J. Burkhalter
Curatorial Specialist, Invertebrate Paleontology
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History
University of Oklahoma, Norman
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