Nomenclature is the formal naming system for living things that all scientists use. It gives every species a two-part scientific name. This system is now firmly established in Biology. It is an integral part of the taxonomy.
According to Article 1 of the code: “Zoological nomenclature is the system of scientific names applied to taxonomic units of animals (taxa) known to occur in nature, whether living or extinct.”
Some basic principles of Nomenclature are:
- Providing stability in the naming and classification of organisms is emphasized. Any taxon must have only one correct name. Nomenclature provides names to species and higher taxa, to facilitate communication among zoologists.
- Nomenclature forms the basis by which scientists can name and cross-refer to organisms. If two or more names are already in use the correct name will be the one that was published earlier. This system is referred to as the law of priority.
- If two or more workers at one particular time describe the same organism using different names, it results in synonyms. However, only one name will be held as a valid name. The validity is provided to the senior synonym. (law of priority)
- When names referring to two separate taxa of the same nomenclatural level are spelled the same, the two names are called homonyms. This situation arises when two separate authors used the same name to refer to two different taxa. This condition is called homonymy. In this situation the junior name is invalid and a new replacement has to be proposed.
- A material on which an original description is based gets a special status. It will form the basis for any future identity of a taxon. This idea is called the type of concept. Thus the concept of a genus and species are fixed by their type genus or type species.
- Names that were used prior to those included by Linnaeus in the “Systema Naturae”, tenth edition, 1758 are not recognized.
- Scientific names must be either Latin or Latinized. The name should be mentioned in italics.
- The genus name should be a single word beginning with a capital letter.
- The species name sholud be a single or compound word beginning with a small letter.