Species description

As a first description is called in biology ( and Paleobiology ) for the first time, certain formal requirements sufficient scientific description of a science previously unknown organism. In medicine, as the first scientific recognition and partly classification of a previously unknown disease, a syndrome or symptom complex is called.

With the discovery of a new or previously unknown organism, scientists often use a temporary " working name ". This living thing is in the subsequent first description assigned a new name, which the progress of knowledge but still can change. In zoological nomenclature called the former designations then " original name combination " and in botany basionym.

The descriptor must comply with regulations that have changed over time and also vary for the individual organisms empires. The ( abbreviated ) name of the first author and year of publication are in the citation of the name of the taxon behind this, but are not part of it.

The first description is therefore not identical with the discovery of the organism, but requires a more complete description of many important classificatory properties of the organism, especially the morphology. Thus, the taxonomic classification of the organism in an existing biological system is possible. But the description of the Terra typica, the locality of the description of the underlying type specimen, and the way of life ( autecology ) is part of a scientific description.

The description is done allowed means of a copy with species-specific characteristics, which is archived as holotype and as a reference for comparison a reliable determination later found copies.

If a taxonomy is not completely possible, as in such fossils in which, because of the incomplete preservation of the Artdiagnostik is often not possible in the first description a less precise classification is made ​​and called Parataxa be placed. In the paleobotany one speaks in such a partial name that are established on the basis of parts of an organism from one form or organ or genus -art. Partial name are also used in the Palaeozoology. A well-known example is the tooth-like fossils of the conodonts, which due to their wide distribution and their wealth form a very important guide fossils in the Paleozoic Era ( Paleozoic ), though you did not know the associated " conodont animal " for a long time and discovered only in 1981.


In biology in particular, many have long known species were described by only a few naturalists who were considered universal scholar in her time. Later first descriptions date back to different authors. Several thousand species were from the Swedish naturalist and founder of the modern scientific taxonomy Carl Linnaeus in his major works Species Plantarum (1753 ) and Systema Naturae ( 10th edition 1758) described. However, Linnaeus descriptions are only in the formal sense first descriptions since they are usually based on older descriptions of other authors.

In botany of the 20th century, among other things, Julian Alfred Steyermark recorded from 2392 with original descriptions.