Type specimens are the foundation of zoological nomenclature. Name-bearing types (holotypes, syntypes) of a species or subspecies are those specimens that served for the description of the respective taxon and to which its name is unambiguously ﬁxed. Such name-bearing types serve as the gold standard for applying the right names and are of outstanding importance for zoological classiﬁcation.
The whereabouts of name-bearing types is for obvious reasons of paramount importance for science and nomenclature. Any researcher working on taxonomic revisions needs to verify which taxon is represented by the name-bearing types in the respective group. However, many historical type specimens have been lost or destroyed, and it is sometimes a time-consuming process to trace type specimens, not least because they are often distributed over different collections and museums. Therefore, any summary of the types of a certain collection is most welcome.
Turtles, terrapins and tortoises belong to the most seriously endangered vertebrates worldwide. Yet, as evinced by many changes of their systematics, including newly described species or species resurrected from synonymies, we are far away from a complete understanding of their diversity. The rise of molecular approaches often changed established classiﬁcations, and some turtle species turned out to be morphologically highly variable, with distinct, but conspeciﬁc, morphotypes. Other taxa are morphologically very similar or indistinguishable, but represent genetically deeply divergent ‘cryptic’ species. In this context, name-bearing type specimens are again of key importance because only the type specimens can unravel which is the proper name of a certain taxon. South Asia and Southeast Asia are biodiversity hotspots, and the species richness of these regions also includes chelonians. Accordingly, the National Zoological Collections of India house many historical type specimens of chelonians. This book reviews the holdings of types and summarizes the specimens present there, and will be a valuable source of information for turtle taxonomists.