Holotype fragment (botany)

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Fri Jan 13 15:39:07 CST 2006

Cheol-Min wrote:

> Nope, you have been misinformed. The zoological code also covers the
> type as specimen (but not necessarily individual).
> The glossary of the past and current zoological code says that the
> holotype (and the lectotype, too) is The Single Specimen (ICZN-2 & 4)
> or A Single Specimen (ICZN-3). We have covered this issue at the
> ICZN-LIST (iczn-list at afriherp.org) recently (11-13.x.2005).

The ICZN code defines "specimen" as follows (from glossary):

specimen, n
    An example of an animal, or a fossil or work of an animal, or of a part
of these. See Article 72.5 for the kinds of specimen eligible to be
name-bearing types of nominal species-group nominal taxa.

Art, 72.5 says:

72.5. Eligibility as name-bearing types. Only the following are eligible to
be a name-bearing type, or part of a name-bearing type, of a nominal
species-group taxon:

72.5.1. an animal, or any part of an animal, or an example of the fossilized
work of an animal, or of the work of an extant animal if the name based on
it was established before 1931;

72.5.2. a colony of animals that exists in nature as a single entity,
derived by asexual or vegetative multiplication from a single individual
(e.g. a colony of cnidarians, such as corals), or part of such a colony;

72.5.3. in the case of fossils, a natural replacement, natural impression,
natural mould, or natural cast of an animal or colony, or part of either;

72.5.4. in extant species of protistans, one or more preparations of
directly related individuals representing differing stages in the life cycle
(a hapantotype) [Art. 73.3];

72.5.5. a preparation for microscope examination (e.g. a "type slide")
containing one or more individual organisms, in which the name-bearing types
are clearly indicated and identifiable.

Recommendation 72C. Marking of important individuals. Whenever possible,
authors establishing new nominal species-group taxa based upon microscope
preparations containing more than one specimen (a "type slide") should mark
distinctly the locations of specimens which are considered to be of crucial
importance in demonstrating the taxonomic characters.

72.5.6. In the case of a nominal species-group taxon based on an
illustration or description, or on a bibliographic reference to an
illustration or description, the name-bearing type is the specimen or
specimens illustrated or described (and not the illustration or description

Based on this, it seems clear to me that the ICZN code does what it can
equate "specimen" with "individual" (i.e., "example of an animal", "single
entity", "single individual"), rather than "museum preparation" (which is
how I gather that the botanical code scopes a name-bearing type).  The only
reference to "preparation" in Art. 72.5 is in the context of situations
where multiple individual organisms are collectively preserved together, in
which case the individuals must either be "directly related individuals", or
"one or more individual organisms".

But more importantly, the phrase "part of a name-bearing type" (Art. 72.5)
implies that the whole name-bearing type exceeds an individual part (whereas
in botany, the part *is* the name-bearing type).

Moreover, 72.5.6 indicates clearly that the name-bearing type is the
"specimen" (sensu ICZN); not the illustration (or the illustrated *part* of
a specimen).

So, if the skin of a mammal is preserved in a museum and designated as the
name-bearing type for a species-group taxon name, it seems clear to me that
it would be treated as "part of a name-bearing type".  Thus, when the
skeleton of the same individual organism is discovered decades later in
another museum (never having been examined by the original taxon author), I
think most zoological taxonomists would regard that skeleton as *another*
"part of a name-bearing type" -- not, as in the case with botany, the
functional equivalent of a (non-name-bearing) isotype.

I agree that the Code is not explicit in this regard (i.e., whether the
name-bearing type explicitly includes an entire individual), but I believe
most zoologists would interpret it that way.

> Anyway, as a part of an animal can be the type by the ICZN, can we
> holotypify whole genomic DNA extracts of an animal stored in a
> microcentrifuge tube preserved in a *pretty* cool environment?

I don't see anything in the Code to prevent it, as there are no limits
placed on what constitutes a "part".  However, it seems to me that the
electronically stored (or printed) DNA sequence itself would not be
considered a type -- only the biological flesh from which it was derived
(interpreting a rendered DNA sequence as analagous to an illustration).

> Nature created species; Man created genera.

Nature created matter; matter assembled into atoms and molecules; molecules
formed genes; genes instructed the assembly of proteins; proteins formed
organisms; Man clustered organisms into taxa (of all ranks...including



Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Database Coordinator for Natural Sciences
  and Associate Zoologist in Ichthyology
Department of Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at bishopmuseum.org

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