New Project: First Known Photographs of Living Specimens

After discussion and suggestions at this thread, I’ve created a global project for the first known photographs of living specimens. These are not just the first observations of a species posted to iNat, but the first photos of a living specimen of that species anywhere online.

If you’ve posted any of these records yourself and know of observations that do exist, feel free to add them!


I know of a lot of spider observations which might be the first photo anywhere, but it’s really difficult to tell, sometimes. For example, here’s an observation of Cyclosa triquetra which is definitely the first on iNaturalist. I haven’t found any other photos on the web, but the species was described in 1895 and has a range from Mexico to Peru - you’d think there must be a photo somewhere, especially since it has such a unique shape.

Or here’s one from yesterday: The only other photos I’ve found so far are of specimens. There are lots more like this. How much searching should we do before concluding there’s nothing else out there?


I don’t think a huge amount of searching is warranted. I think the emphasis on ‘first known’ is a good one given, as you say, there are likely photos for some of these taxa out there somewhere that predate the seeming only one currently available online.

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Did add some photos of island endemic sage species to the project. I was searching these species in 2013 and 2014 when no photos of them were known in the literature and on the internet. A friend whom i gave a guided tour to the island in 2015, did later bring some of these species into cultivation and sold seeds to sage enthusiasts. This means there might be some more pictures out on the internet now, of the respective species.
Also some of my photos have been shared with other websites before uploading them to iNat.

As it was in all cases me, searching the species and taking the first known photos, i still think these observations qualify.

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Yep for sure, these are great records :)

There seems to be confusion on this–a number of people are adding photos that are the first observation on iNat, but not the first existing photo (obs where identifiers have linked to other photos as evidence, for example) :(

Thanks for letting me know, I’ll try to clean those up

I commented on a few, but it looks like there might be a lot of work (and an ongoing issue)!


Kudos to you . . .

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Oh dear . . . I somehow completely blanked out on the “living” part. Not sure now if that was true for all the ones I was seeing, or just some. Sorry!

from a quick skim most seem to be that case, with previous records pinned/pressed specimens

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