Curators: Recent Evidence of Organism Issues

Hey everyone so another curator and I bumped into a disagreement on how the Recent Evidence of Organism tag should be used and it got me thinking. I was originally using it in a manner that would be akin to using it if the photograph was of food (specifically a french fry in this case), buildings, or other human created items. In this particular case the french fry was labeled as S. tuberosum, the other curator said that it showed recent evidence of a cultivated specimen which I can see and understand but don’t think it sets a good precedence towards taking pictures of each salad, etc. But like I said this got me thinking, doesn’t every photo indicate some level of recent evidence of an organism? Some where in almost any photo something will exist that is either an organism or recent evidence of one. The mere photo itself shows evidence that a human was there to take it therefor could fall under the casual perimeters for H. sapiens. Lastly this is not a who’s more right or wrong post but more of a revaluation of even having the particular quality assessment tab in general.

“Recent evidence of organism? No” refers to fossils primarily.


my understanding was that the ‘recent evidence’ tag is there so that people can tag things like fossils, which do represent evience of an organism, but old enough that they aren’t a good fit for iNat maps and data pool (no you didn’t see a velociraptor in current day Utah etc). For things like food posts, tagging as not wild is probably best, though i agree that it seems a bit more than that as well because it’s so processed. Maybe others will also have thoughts.

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I would not consider that a photo of french fries is a good observation of the potato plant.


Related question, what would be the best approach to observations of taxidermied animals?

i’d mark them as captive. They are dead but if someone had brought a live animal to that location in a cage it wouldn’t be too different.


Generally with specimens, be they in a msueum, or fouling someone’s wall.

  • if the date and location are where they are currently sitting - mark the date and location as inaccurate
  • if the date and location seem to indicate where it was obtained - they are acceptable

huh. i would have thought just mark them as not wild. I would only mark date/time wrong if it looks like someone mapped wrong. Maybe i am off though, i don’t know.

To me, something like this :

The photograph itself is taken in a museum or collection or whatever, but the date and location reflect where it was collected. And it is a perfectly valid observation.

Taxidermy stuff is just another type of specimen.


hmm, yeah i see your point. I was imagining like, a natural history museum display or something. if it’s trackable to a date and time when sampled, that makes sense

For users that accidentally upload a fossil specimen on iNaturalist, I think it would be worth redirecting them to myFOSSIL, which is another citizen science data site that is actually for fossils.


Awesome feedback everyone. Thanks for clearing it up for me and making it obvious :D !

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I sometimes post photos from my insect collection and I feel that its pretty similar. What I do is I post data from where it was collected so if the poster can post where the animal was collected I feel it would still be a good addition. Might be worth adding a comment in the post that the data is for when/where it was collected just to avoid questions though.


I only agree with this if the collection data is unknown. If the collection data is known, and it was taken from the wild, there is no reason to mark it as captive. Else we’d be marking all the pinned insects as captive too.


yeah you all are right about that.

This should really be best practice where specimens are concerned, for the avoidance of doubt by others in the future.


Bringing this back because it answers a question I was otherwise going to ask: “How recent is ‘recent’?”

I see in @bouteloua 's reply (great username, I take it you’re into prairie grasses!) that “recent” means within the past 100 years. So, more recent than the start of the “Recent” geological period, but not so recent that I can’t dip into my photo archives for a Throwback Thursday.


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