San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSan Diego Natural History Museum Biodiversity Research Center of the Californias: Botany Department


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What is a Type Specimen?

Search Botany Type Database
The Botanical Type Specimen Collection
What is a Type Specimen?

A type specimen is the single specimen, or any one of a set of specimens, designated in the original publication of a new scientific name as representing the organism that is being named. Any later researcher working on the taxonomy of that or related organisms needs to find and examine as much of the original type material as possible, in order to understand the work that has gone before. This database will make it easier for others to find and use our material.

In addition, it is a way for us to solve some of our mysteries. Like most type collections, ours includes some specimens for which the status is ambiguous--perhaps because the specimen was labeled as a type but no publication of the name has been found, or because the label information is not adequate to identify it as definitely being one of the type set. A researcher who is a specialist in the group of plants to which a possible type specimen belongs can help clear up the mystery one way or the other, but only if he or she knows it exists!