A species description is a formal description of a newly discovered
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...
, usually in the form of a
scientific paper : ''For a broader class of literature, see Academic publishing Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sa ...
. Its purpose is to give a clear description of a new species of
organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, properties of life. It is a synonym for "Outline of life forms, life form". Organ ...
and explain how it differs from species which have been described previously or are related. The species description often contains photographs or other illustrations of the type material and states in which museums it has been deposited. The publication in which the species is described gives the new species a formal
scientific name Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
. Some 1.9 million species have been identified and described, out of some 8.7 million that may actually exist. Millions more have become
extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, properties of life. It is ...
throughout the existence of life on Earth.

Naming process

A name of a new species becomes valid ( available in zoological terminology) with the date of publication of its formal scientific description. Once the scientist has performed the necessary research to determine that the discovered organism represents a new species, the scientific results are summarized in a scientific manuscript, either as part of a book, or as a paper to be submitted to a scientific journal. A scientific species description must fulfill several formal criteria specified by the nomenclature codes, e.g. selection of at least one
type specimen In biology, a type is a particular specimen (or in some cases a group of specimens) of an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodi ...
. These criteria are intended to ensure that the species name is clear and unambiguous, for example, the
International Code of Zoological Nomenclature The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) is a widely accepted Convention (norm), convention in zoology that rules the formal scientific name, scientific naming of organisms treated as animals. It is also informally known as the IC ...
(ICZN) states that "Authors should exercise reasonable care and consideration in forming new names to ensure that they are chosen with their subsequent users in mind and that, as far as possible, they are appropriate, compact, euphonious, memorable, and do not cause offence." Species names are written in the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, but many species names are based on words from other languages, Latinized. Once the manuscript has been accepted for publication,One example of an abstract of an article naming a new species can be found at the new species name is officially created. Once a species name has been assigned and approved, it can generally not be changed except in the case of error. For example, a species of beetle ('' Anophthalmus hitleri'') was named by a German collector after
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capi ...
in 1933 when he had recently become chancellor of Germany. It is not clear whether such a dedication would be considered acceptable or appropriate today, but the name remains in use. Species names have been chosen on many different bases. Most common is a naming for the species' external appearance, its origin, or the species name is a dedication for a certain person. Examples would include a bat species named for the two stripes on its back (''
Saccopteryx bilineata The greater sac-winged bat (''Saccopteryx bilineata'') is a bat of the family Emballonuridae native to Central and South America. They are the most common bats seen in the rainforest, as they often roost on the outside of large trees. They are i ...

Saccopteryx bilineata
''), a frog named for its Bolivian origin ('' Phyllomedusa boliviana''), and an ant species dedicated to the actor Harrison Ford ('' Pheidole harrisonfordi''). A scientific name in honor of a person or persons is a known as a taxonomic patronym or patronymic. A number of humorous species names also exist. Literary examples include the genus name ''
Borogovia ''Borogovia'' is a troodontid theropod dinosaur genus which lived during the Late Cretaceous Period (geology), Period, in what is now Mongolia. In 1971, a Polish-Mongolian expedition discovered the remains of a small theropod at the Altan Ula ...

'' (an extinct dinosaur), which is named after the borogove, a mythical character from Lewis Carrol's poem "". A second example, '''' (a tall plant) was named after the magical spell "to apparate" from the Harry Potter novels by J. K. Rowling, as it seemed to appear out of nowhere. In 1975, the British naturalist Peter Scott proposed the binomial name ''Nessiteras rhombopteryx'' ("Ness monster with diamond-shaped fin") for the Loch Ness Monster; it was soon spotted that it was an anagram of "Monster hoax by Sir Peter S".

Species names recognizing benefactors

Species have frequently been named by scientists in recognition of supporters and benefactors. For example, the genus ''Victoria (plant), Victoria'' (a flowering waterplant) was named in honour of Queen Victoria of Great Britain. More recently, a species of lemur (''Avahi cleesei'') was named after the actor John Cleese in recognition of his work to publicize the plight of lemurs in Madagascar. Non-profit ecological organizations may also allow benefactors to name new species in exchange for financial support for taxonomic research and nature conservation. A German non-profit organisation (gemeinnütziger Verein), BIOPAT - Patrons for Biodiversity has raised more than $450,000 for research and conservation through sponsorship of over 100 species using this model. An individual example of this system is the ''Callicebus aureipalatii'' (or "monkey of the Golden Palace"), which was named after the GoldenPalace.com, Golden Palace casino in recognition of a $650,000 contribution to the Madidi National Park in Bolivia in 2005. The International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN) discourages this practice somewhat: "Recommendation 20A. Authors forming generic names should comply with the following ... (h) Not dedicate genera to persons quite unconcerned with botany, mycology, phycology, or natural science in general."

History of species descriptions

Early biologists often published entire volumes or multiple-volume works of descriptions in an attempt to catalog all known species. These catalogs typically featured extensive descriptions of each species and were often illustrated upon reprinting. The first of these large catalogs was Aristotle's ''History of Animals'', published around 343 B.C. Aristotle included descriptions of creatures, mostly fish and invertebrates, in his homeland, and several mythological creatures rumored to live in far-away lands, such as the manticore. In 77 A.D. Pliny the Elder dedicated several volumes of his ''Natural History (Pliny), Natural History'' to the description of all life forms he knew to exist. He appears to have read Aristotle's work, since he writes about many of the same far-away mythological creatures. Toward the end of the 12th century, ''Konungs skuggsjá'', an Old Norse philosophical didactic work, featured several descriptions of the whales, seals, and monsters of the Icelandic seas. These descriptions were brief and often erroneous, and they included a description of the mermaid and a rare island-like sea monster called Hafgufa, Hafgufu. The author was hesitant to mention the beast (known today to be fictitious) for fear of its size, but felt it was important enough to be included in his descriptions. However, the earliest recognized species authority is Carl Linnaeus, Linnaeus, who standardized the modern Taxonomy (biology), taxonomy system beginning with his ''Systema Naturae'' in 1735. As the catalog of known species was increasing rapidly, it became impractical to maintain a single work documenting every species. Publishing a paper documenting a single species was much faster and could be done by scientists with less broadened scopes of study. For example, a scientist who discovered a new species of insect would not need to understand plants, or frogs, or even insects which did not resemble the species, but would only need to understand closely related insects.

Modern species descriptions

Formal species descriptions today follow strict guidelines set forth by the codes of nomenclature. Very detailed formal descriptions are made by scientists, who usually study the organism closely for a considerable time. A diagnosis may be used instead of, or as well as the description. A diagnosis specifies the distinction between the new species and other species. In recent times, new species descriptions have been made without voucher specimens, and this has been controversial.Kannan, Ragupathy (2007). New Bird Descriptions Without Proper Voucher Specimens: Reflections After the Bugun Liocichla Case. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 104: 12-18. https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/part/154730#/summary

Rates of species description

According to the RetroSOS report, the following numbers of species have been described each year since 2000. :

See also

* Binomial nomenclature * Biological type * Botanical Latin * Glossary of scientific naming * Undescribed taxon * :Species described in the 21st century, with subcategories; contains links to earlier centuries




Other sources

* Winston, Judith E. 1999. Describing Species: Practical Taxonomic Procedure For Biologists. Columbia University Press.

External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Species Description Species, Description Biological descriptions