Large organisms that have no observations on iNat

Last year I logged an observation for bonewood (Macropteranthes leichhardtii).
I was surprised and pleased to see this was the first observations for this species on iNaturalist.
Although this tree is confined to a small area of Queensland, it is distinctive because it is often the predominant species in the canopy where it occurs and for the ivory-white dead spars that proliferate among the live trees. The observation was made on edge of a public road near a campground in a well-known national park.
This got me wondering how many large organisms do not have observations on iNaturalist. (Obviously there would be a great many small invertebrates and protists that would not be recorded).
I started looking at things in my main field of interest which is Australian trees. I simply searched iNaturalist for random species and selected which ones returned zero observations. I found a number a rainforest trees that do not have observations to date. Two examples below.

  1. Wollemi pine. Wollemia nobilis. This ancient genus was known from the fossil record but living specimens of W. nobilis were found in a New South Wales national park in 1994. Probably not a surprise that there are no obs of naturally grown specimens because they are found in an area that is remote and difficult to access, plus the park officials discourage visitors from accessing those areas. But because Wollemi pines have been widely cultivated though seeds and tissue culture since 1994 and are commercially available, I thought there would have been quite a few casual obs of planted specimens from Australia. I was surprised to see only two observations, one from California and one from the UK.
  2. Pink silky oak. Alloxylon wickhamii This quite large tree occurs in North Queensland rainforests. It was once a valuable timber tree, prized for its decorative wood. It also produces spectacular, large red flowers. There are no records on iNaturalist, in spite of it growing in well populated areas frequented by many tourists.
    In addition to the trees mentioned above, I conducted random searches of various large animals, another two examples below.
  3. Two of three subspecies Sumatran rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis sbsp*.* lasiotis and Dicerorhinus sumatrensis sbsp. harissoni. There is a record of Dicerorhinus sbsp. sumatrensis but not the other two.
  4. Colossal squid Mesonychetus hamiltoni. If you want to be first to photograph one these in the wild you will probably need a quality wetsuit.
    Do any of you out there know of other examples of elusive plants and creatures yet to debut on iNaturalist?
    I guess it might even be possible to make some sort of algorithm to automatically list species not yet observed, but that is certainly beyond my capabilities.

(note that there are over 500 observations of cultivated Wollemi pine—the two you’re referring to are just the ones that hadn’t been marked captive/cultivated yet. as for Sumatran rhinoceros, the single non-captive observation is of ssp. harrissoni; ssp. lasiotis may be extinct, so probably isn’t a likely candidate for future [non-historical] observations unfortunately, and the nominate subspecies hasn’t been added to iNat’s taxonomy yet)

several of the enigmatic beaked whales (Ziphiidae) have no observations at all, and a few more species are only represented by one to a handful of observations of stranded individuals (which is also the case for a couple other cetaceans)


Many Guadua and other bamboo species have no observations on iNat yet. In the case of Guadua, the plants might be really hard to get to but quite large (up to 30 m tall). Part of this is due to the difficulty in IDing bamboo to species from just photos, of course!


4 giant squid stranded on Cape Peninsula (separately)


Surprisingly, quite a few obs of giant squid. None for colossal squid.


Hi @elka_bamboo : I do agree with you upon difficulty to ID bamboo. It’ll not cover Guadua since I’m living in Europa and this genus don’t grow at our latitudes, but I did try to put up a small guide on what to look at for Phyllostachys species. Maybe it could be a starting point of features you could look at when photographing Guadua ? If you have ID ressources about these tropical bamboos, I would be interested (at least for theorical interest).


Those two Sumatran Rhinoceros subspecies are not observed in iNat because the are extinct.

only D. s. lasiotis is (potentially) extinct—both D. s. sumatrensis and D. s. harrissoni are extant (see my comment above)