In biology, a specimen is an individual animal, part of an animal, plant, part of a plant, or microorganism used as a representative to study the properties of the whole population of that species or subspecies. When a taxon is described, it is typically based on a single specimen, then referred to as the holotype.

Specimen may also refer to:

In medical laboratory

In rocks, gems, and minerals

  • A piece of a type of rock, gem, or mineral taken from the earth. This can be anything from a jasper to a diamond.

In typography

  • A type specimen is a publication that shows the available glyphs in a typeface, including variations used for ligatures and special ornaments.
  • In handwriting recognition, forensic handwriting analysis and signature verification, the term sample refers to a specimen of handwriting.
  • Central Banks send so-called Specimen banknote (or specimens) to other banks before issuing a new banknote. To avoid its use as a legal tender note the banknote is perforated or punched, given a serial number of 000000 (all zeroes), or is overprinted with the word "Specimen" or "Cancelled" in any language.


  • Hauser, Steiner, Holstein & Scoble. eds. 2005. Digital Imaging of Biological Type Specimens: A Manual of Best Practice. State Museum of Natural History. ISBN 3000172408

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