Available name

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In zoological nomenclature, an available name is a scientific name for a taxon of animals that has been published after 1757 and conforming to all the mandatory provisions of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature for the establishment of a zoological name.

For a name to be available, in addition to meeting certain criteria for publication, there are a number of general requirements it must fulfill: it must include a description or definition of the taxon, must use only the Latin alphabet, must be formulated within the binomial nomenclature framework, must be newly-proposed (not a redescription under the same name of a taxon previously made available) and originally used as a valid name rather than as a synonym, must not be for a hybrid or hypothetical taxon, must not be for a taxon below the rank of subspecies, etc. In some rare cases, a name which does not meet these requirements may nevertheless be available, for historical reasons, as the criteria for availability have become more stringent with successive Code editions.[1] For example, a name originally appearing along with an illustration but no formal description may be an available name, but only if the illustration was published prior to 1930 (under Article 12.2.7).[1]

All available names must refer to a type, even if one was not provided at the time the name was first proposed. For species-level names, the type is usually a single specimen (a holotype, lectotype, or neotype); for generic-level names, the type is a single species; for family-level names, the type is a single genus. This hierarchical system of typification provides a concrete empirical anchor for all zoological names.

An available name is not necessarily a valid name, because an available name may be a homonym or subsequently be placed into synonymy. However, a valid name must always be an available one.

Contrast to botany[edit]

Under the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants, this term is not used. In botany, the corresponding term is validly published name.[2] The botanical equivalent of zoology's term "valid name" is correct name.


  1. ^ a b "ICZN article 12". Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  2. ^ McNeill, J.; Barrie, F.R.; Buck, W.R.; Demoulin, V.; Greuter, W.; Hawksworth, D.L.; Herendeen, P.S.; Knapp, S.; Marhold, K.; Prado, J.; Reine, W.F.P.h.V.; Smith, G.F.; Wiersema, J.H.; Turland, N.J. (2012). International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Melbourne Code) adopted by the Eighteenth International Botanical Congress Melbourne, Australia, July 2011: Glossary. Vol. Regnum Vegetabile 154. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag KG. ISBN 978-3-87429-425-6.