Note to contributors (not part of the Checklist)
This page holds the current draft of a checklist for authors who want to establish new zoological genera and species. The idea is to provide a very terse summary of the relevant points of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, since the Code itself is very long and complicated, and it’s sometimes hard to see the wood for the trees. The checklist is in two parts: Requirements and Best Practice.
Note that this page has no official standing with the ICZN, and for that matter neither do I. I’m just acting as an incubator. (If the Commission were to want to adopt the finished version, they would be welcome.) In any case, this is currently a work in progress and at this point is made available only so that people can critique it.
Feel free to contribute by leaving a comment below. Note, though, that we very explicitly do not wish to add anything that expands the scope of this checklist beyond the establishment of new zoological genera and species (for example, dealing with replacement names, families, or subgenera/subspecies). To be useful, the final version should fit on a single sheet of A4 paper.
The draft checklist
This list applies only to the establishment of new genera and species. It is not intended to guide the assignment of replacement names, nor for judging the availability of existing names. For simplicity, in some places its requirements are more stringent than those of the Code. This version of the Checklist is based on the 4th Edition (2000) of the Code, and may become outdated with the publication of the 5th Edition of the code. For further information, see the ICZN’s official FAQ.
- The new name must be published in a work issued for the purpose of providing a permanent, public scientific record.
- The work must be produced in an edition containing simultaneously obtainable copies by a method that assures numerous identical and durable copies. For the purposes of priority, the Code defines the date of publication as the date on which the numerous identical durable copies were made simultaneously obtainable. Numerous copies that are not simultaneously obtainable (e.g., print on demand, paper reprints, etc.) do not constitute published works. [In practice, this means the work must be printed on paper and made obtainable in a batch. The Code does not specify how many copies must be printed, but 50 or more is typical. Note that on-line publication does not count.]
- The newly named animal must not already have a name that can be used for it.
- A new genus name must not have previously been used for a different genus or subgenus; a new species name must not have previously been used in the same genus for a different species or subspecies.
- The new name must be spelled using only the 26 letters of the English-language alphabet, without diacritics or punctuation.
- New scientific names must consist of “words” (not merely initialisms or arbitrary combination of letters), i.e. the name, or each part of a binomial, must in some language be pronounceable as a single word.
- The new name must be explicitly stated to be new and the rank of the new taxon must be given. This may be done by appending “sp. nov.” to the first use of a new species name, and “gen. nov.” to a new genus name.
- The new name must be accompanied by the explicit designation of a type. For a species, this must be a holotype specimen or syntype series. If the holotype or syntypes are not lost or destroyed, state that they are (or will be) deposited in a collection, and indicate the name and location of that collection and the specimen number within the collection. For new genera, a type species must be designated.
- The new name must be accompanied by a description or definition that states in words characters that differentiate the taxon, or be accompanied by a bibliographic reference to such a published statement.
- If a species name (i.e., the second part of a genus+species combination) is, or ends in, a Latin or latinized adjective or participle in the nominative singular, it must agree in gender with the name of the genus that contains it.
- The Code does not state exactly what constitutes “a permanent, public scientific record”. To avoid controversy, recognised academic journals should be used, and newsletters and popular magazines avoided. While peer-review is not required, names published in reviewed literature may be more widely recognised.
- Publish new taxon descriptions in a widely understood language where possible; otherwise, provide a summary in a widely understood language.
- The date of publication should be stated within the published work itself. Sometimes only the year is given, but more precision (month and day) is preferable in case a priority dispute arises.
- When establishing a new species, avoid species names already established within closely related genera, to avoid the creation of secondary homonyms if the genera are later synonymized.
- Avoid creating new names that have been represented as misspellings of existing names.
- Avoid creating zoological names that are already established under other Codes of scientific nomenclature (e.g., the botanical code or the bacteriological code). These are not forbidden by the Code, but may cause confusion.
- Avoid spellings that are likely to be misspelled by subsequent users, and take care to spell the new name consistently throughout the work.
- Species can be named after people by casting those people’s names into a Latin genitive: when doing this, observe gender and number distinctions. The default method is: add -i to the name of a single male, -ae for a single female, -arum for several females, and -orum for any group with at least one male.
- If at all uncertain about the formation of the new name, consult a linguist.
- State the etymology of the new name.
- State the gender of a new genus name.
- Illustrate the type material, showing the diagnostic features of the taxon where possible.
- Register the new name at ZooBank.
Contributors (in chronological order)
- Mike Taylor
- Wolfgang Wuster
- Francisco Welter-Schultes
- David Patterson
- Paul van Rijckevorsel
- Brad McFeeters
- William Miller
- Christopher Taylor
- David Marjanović
- Bill Eschmeyer
- Frank Krell
- Richard Pyle
- Mark Robinson
- Matt Wedel
- Stephen Thorpe
- Tony Rees
- Gunnar Kvifte
- Miguel Alonso-Zarazaga