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What is nomen nudum?

The phrase nomen nudum (plural; nomina nuda) is a Latin term which literally means "naked name".

Let's say, a dinosaur has been discovered and its name has been published. Now imagine an official scientific description as the clothes that dress that dinosaur name. If said description fails to materialise then the dinosaur's name is naked—it's a nomen nudum.

In zoological nomenclature (the system zoologists use to devise names) all critters (not just dinosaurs) must be attached to an official description otherwise their name, and therefore the critter itself, is not valid. Unofficial names are generally enclosed in "quotation marks".
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "DinoChecker FAQ entry :: What is nomen nudum?"
http://www.dinochecker.com/dinosaurfaqs/what-is-nomen-nudum›. Web access: 28th Apr 2017.
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