Identify observation as "non-living"

I have just had two of my “lichens” identified as (1) a mineral and (2) a stain.

We need a classification for “non living”. Both these observations are easily mis-interpreted as living and should be retained as examples of " non-fungi"
But there is no ID that satisfies this criterion.
An upper level ID equivalent to " State of matter Life" is needed for non-living things mistaken as life.

If I withdraw my incorrect ID of Lichen it becomes “Unknown”. This is wrong - it is known: it is non-living.

Can you link to the observations in question? Would the “no” vote for “Evidence of organism?” in the Data Quality Assessment not work for these situations?


If it is non-living, does it need a category on iNaturalist? Should it remain on iNat?


Doesn’t that ruin the whole idea of ‘iNaturalist’?

Lots of people (including me) will take pictures of non-living things (statues and such) and upload them as ‘Human’.

I ID non-living things as human, because they are a sign of human presence. This gets fuzzy around things like rocks, because rocks aren’t made by humans, but they also aren’t alive.

Classic naturalists also identified rocks and minerals. As a geologist by training, I would like to see a place where I can post cool minerals or rock structures that I find out in the field, as well as the cool critters that I find living on top of the rocks.


I wish I could find my classic example of this: I had a suspicion, did an web image search (this was before auto-ID), and found that the especially symmetrical crustacean someone had posted was actually a common rubber fishing bait. :blush:

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I’ll also add that many people post photos of animal tracks (mostly deer or Coyote), bird nests, bones, rotting roadkill, feathers, etc. All of which are non-living, but show evidence of a living or once-living organism being present.


There’s not a complete geological analog to iNat, but is probably the closest. Check out this thread:


I have plenty of people who do data collection and Who use road kill data here on INat
For all kinds of stuff most important
On doing wildlife crossings for new road projects not including those observations
Is a seriously bad idea, also I have a few observations I’ve posted of elk carcasses
That Have helped in two poaching cases so removing these would be a big loss in my opinion

@ck2az I think the concern is more about things that were never alive rather than things that were once alive. (Or at least not “recently” alive; see iNat treatment of fossils).


yeah, posting things like animal sign or dead animals (or plants) is totally fine

I got it, like Dino bones

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If iNat includes something made by humans as evidence of Homo sapiens, then the extended phenotype (after Dawkins) of a species is fair game as a record of that species. iNat already “allows” that in some cases such as by including photos of beaver dams as evidence of beaver, distinctive bird nests as evidence of a particular bird species, etc.

I’m not sure what the utility of this would be. Something that isn’t evidence of an organism shouldn’t be posted to iNat. If it is, one can vote “no” to “Evidence of organism” in the Data Quality Assessment.

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