Wednesday, 16 June 2010

International Code of Zoological Nomenclature

I should've done this a long time ago. The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (affectionately known by zoologists as "The Code" or the ICZN) is THE document that outlines the rules of how the scientific names of species are named and decided. It attempts to control what one could argue is the largest and longest distributed project in the world---the naming and categorising of all animal life on earth. It does not make for stimulating bed-time reading, but it is (or should be) essential for all zoologists to have some familiarity with it, and particularly those who hope to make a living participating in the project.

It's rules concern only those who deal with animals. Botanists are governed by their own code named (logically enough) the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. The two are independent and have some differences. Not many, but enough to mean for botanists and zoologists to both wonder why the other does what they do.

So, if one were to get a copy of this scintillating document, how would they go about it? You could try asking your friendly neighbourhood taxonomist and if they don't have a copy they should hang their head in shame. For those who like to put something on the bedside table, a you can buy a copy for $56 USD (including postage and packaging). If you're too cheap, can't afford it, or just enjoy reading from a computer screen it is available freely online here.

Enjoy the read!

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