Favorite identification debates?

I’m a journalist working on a story about what seems to be a growth in interest in natural history among people in the United States. One of the things I’d like to illustrate is the sometimes-heated, somewhat-nerdy, almost always good-hearted debates that occur on iNaturalist when it comes to making an identification. I have some examples but every one is different and I’d love to hear from people willing to share threads that they think are notable in some way. Grateful for any pointers - I can be reached directly at amy@nytimes.com or on iNat at @amy_harmon.

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this might be a good place to start: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?order_by=votes&place_id=any&project_id=43991. (EDIT: nevermind. this actually looks mostly like memes, but the rest of this post is still valid.)

this is the observation that inspired that project: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/5890862, and some additional discussion here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/how-did-the-observation-of-gerald-the-muskrat-go-viral-on-inaturalist/7851/2.

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There’s one fern observation I saw where it was identified as 3 different taxa for the common name “Interrupted Fern”. All referring to the same species, so none really “wrong”. Although one is a bit of an older name compared to the other 2, so the other 2 are closer to “proper”.

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377 ids??? This is the best thing I’ve seen all week

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@amy_harmon welcome to the iNaturalist Forum Amy! I changed the category of this topic to #nature-talk since it is not specific to curators - all community members participate in identification. I’ll be thinking on some favorite ID discussions :thinking:

EDIT: just an everyday example here, but I always enjoy the ones where I learn something new:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/29076442

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Gerald is the stuff of legends!

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Thanks so much, @jdmore. I hadn’t posted it under #nature-talk because the description of that forum specifically said it was for “nature-related topics that aren’t directly related to iNaturalist” and I’m eager for folks who are very iNat-focused to see it. Is is possible to cross-post? Or perhaps put it under “General?” Appreciate your guidance!

This discussion/debate got pretty nerdy about a group of brown ear-like mushrooms that grow on trees: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/61451333. One of the mushroom experts in the discussion ended up saying , “This is now easily one of my favorite iNat comments threads ever.” And it’s been referenced in at least one Facebook mycology group as ‘the’ discussion to understand the debate about this group of mushroom species.

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This one is still unresolved but makes for an entertaining read. Maybe one day someone will come along who can say “oh yes, I’ve seen this before and know what it is.”

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Wow…thank you for this pointer!

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The best one on the site is clearly https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/5890862

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I guess it fits there too – it’s a bit of a gray area for me, so other moderators are welcome to overrule. The category shouldn’t affect visibility, since all categories are visible to all Forum participants, including iNat curators. For our own sanity we just like to keep the Forum as consistently organized as possible.

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Thanks - that is the one I was hunting for. Len de Beer is currently back in Madagascar tasked with finding us Another One. With legs? Or without??

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I’d like to thank @borisb for being patient with me when I was a complete newbie and taking the time to explain why this observation was indeed Harmonia axyridis aka harlequin ladybird https://uk.inaturalist.org/observations/40073276

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Here are a couple of mine:
https://inaturalist.ca/observations/18970659
https://inaturalist.ca/observations/55350632
I’ve been involved in others, but can’t find them offhand. I have found all my debates to be that - never any rancour, and people willing to add their two cents worth. I have learned a LOT in the process!

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Curses upon you!! This observation led me down an hour long trip down a rabbit hole. I don’t think it’s an insect BTW.

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A few years ago I read a couple of interesting ones. One was about Mola spp. identification or distribution, and the other was about whether Physalia physalis was really just one species or whether it ought to be several.

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There are quite a few I’ve been a part of, here are some of them.
Hybrid or Domestic?
Ruddy Duck or Bufflehead?
Blonde Mallard - Natural or Domestic?

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@raymie The observation of the muskrat(Gerald) with over 800 comments takes forever to load! I have never been able to see the whole thing let alone the first 10 IDs.

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And here is one
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/106772737

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