Type specimens are the name bearing specimens upon which scientific names are based.

The fish type collection at the Australian Museum is the fourth largest in the world. In the video, Ichthyology Collection Manager Mark McGrouther takes us on a behind the scenes look at part of this scientifically priceless collection.

At 0:23, Mark says "There is a new species described every week in Australia" - what is more correct is that a species new to the Australian fauna is discovered (not described) from Australia every week.

The table, below, lists the meanings of some of the types of types.

Type Definition
Allotype A term designating a specimen of opposite sex to the holotype.
Cotype  A term no longer used. Formerly used for either a syntype or paratype.
Holotype  The single specimen on which the taxon was based or the single specimen designated as the name-bearing (or primary) specimen.
Lectotype  A syntype later designated as the one name-bearing type specimen.
Neotype  The specimen designated as the name-bearing type of a nominal species or subspecies for which no holotype, or lectotype, or syntype, or prior neotype is believed to exist.
Paralectotype The type specimens remaining after a lectotype is designated.
Paratype  Specimens of the type series other than the holotype.
Primary types  Holotypes, Syntypes, Lectotypes and Neotypes
Secondary types  Non-primary types such as paratypes and paralectotypes
Syntype  Each specimen of a type series (of equal rank) when no holotype or lectotype has been named.
Type  A term used alone or as part of a compound term used for a kind of specimen or taxon.
Type series  The original name-bearing specimens used to define a species-group taxon.
Type species  The (nominal) species that is the name-bearing type of a genus or subgenus.
Chirotype  This term is sometimes used to refer to type specimens before the manuscript is published. When the paper describing the species is published, the specimens are no longer chirotypes but become true type specimens (see above).
Genotype This term has been used incorrectly for the type species of a genus.
Plesiotype This term has been used for a specimen illustrated in a publication. These are not type specimens. Plesiotype was sometimes used by G.P. Whitley, one of the most famous of Australian ichthyologists. Whitley worked in the Australian Museum Fish Section from 1922 till 1964.
Topotype  This term has been used for specimens collected from the type locality after the original description of the species.

Most of these definitions are from Eschmeyer (1998), and are used with the permission of Dr W.N. Eschmeyer.


  1. Eschmeyer, W.N. (Ed). 1998. Catalog of fishes. Special Publication, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco. 3 vols. Pp. 2905.
  2. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.