With a nomen dubium it may be impossible to decide whether a specimen belongs to that group or not. This may happen if the original type specimen is lost or destroyed. The zoological and botanical codes allow for a new type specimen, or neotype, to be chosen in this case.
A name may also be considered a nomen dubium if its name-bearing type is fragmentary or lacking important diagnostic features. This is often the case for species known only as fossils. To preserve stability of names, the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature allows a new type specimen, or neotype, to be chosen for a nomen dubium in this case.
It is one of a number of terms which are used in biological taxonomy.
- International Code of Zoological Nomenclature website.