Does iNaturalist allow observations of fossils?

I did a search for “Trilobite” and “Graptolite” and drew a blank. These are pretty common fossils. Are fossil observations allowed on iNaturalist?

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Generally iNat is about currently living organisms and recently extinct ones, not fossils.

It’s not against the rules, but you have to indicate that there is no “recent sign of organism”, which will drop it to ‘casual’ grade. In addition, there is the possibility of making a place easy to find for illegal or irresponsible collectors, so if a fossil is uploaded it’s best to either have it be only of common ones, or to obscure the location.

This topic has been covered before, you might get some insight from some of the past posts



AFAICT, extinct species do not count as observations and are not findable on iNat - it makes little sense to add them here.


they do count as observations, and they are findable; it’s just that

casual records are still observations and can still be found, they’re just excluded from maps and searches by default until you do specify their inclusion


Weird: Microtus henseli · iNaturalist

“0 observations”: one not annotated in August, one adult in October :D

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that species page is counting verifiable observations, which does not include casual observations

here they are for you:

note the ‘2 observations’

It includes them, just click on “life stage”. :D (agreed, it’s a bug, a funny one)
But as I said, extinct species [hence the ‘taxa’ page, the one you end up on after googling for its name] appear not to count as observations [hence the ‘0’]
Google naively for ‘extinct species’ → iNat as first or second result → 0 obs. (Which is fine, and to keep in mind when considering adding an obs for an extinct species: it’s in essence pointless, your pic gets no hypertext link anywhere unless manually added in your profile, it ends up in a sort of deep web with near-zero discoverability, does not get CV, etc. Don’t waste time and bandwidth adding photos of fossils or broccoli pizza.)


I’m referring to the observations count reading as ‘zero’, which is the point you were trying to make, no?

OK, miscommunication, see edit.

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It may be a “waste of time” if discoverability and CV is your goal. Although if this applies to all extinct species, then that defines the vintage photos documenting Dusky Seaside Sparrows as equally a “waste of time.”


Well, if storing pics of fossils or other legal-and-relevant-DQA stuff (e.g. Dusky Seaside Sparrows whatever that is, or broccoli-pineapple pizzas) is a goal, go for it. Looks like it’s ok with the Terms of Use, and it’s much cheaper than Dropbox :)

A few fossil observations here and there are OK, but iNat’s not a place for uploading fossils, it’s really for sharing observations of extant organisms. There are other sites that are designed for fossil uploads.

I don’t understand why you are being so snarky. In terms of the amount of biological data they provide, fossils are not equivalent to broccoli pizzas. Nobody is going to publish a paper on a broccoli pizza find, but papers have been published on fossil finds.

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I genuinely don’t understand the logic or aim behind encouraging people to upload pics of e.g. Cardioceras bukowskii or Gaojiashania cyclus on this site… considering the stated -albeit lax- goals and guidelines of iNat, as well as the systematic DQA and its consequences (absence of CV, near-zero discoverability by anyone, no export to e.g. PaleoDB). The only (tiny) benefit I can figure so far is… free storage. What else does it bring, to whom? Please explain to me like I’m five or a palaeo guy :)
(Is the number of papers published in some field a criterium for acceptance on iNat? that would explain the inane amount of pet dogs here).

Since the question has been answered and it’s been discussed many times on the forum, I’m going to close the thread. Please remember to discuss the topic and not focusing on tone - if something about a message is not appropriate, please flag it rather than reply.

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