Replace [extinct] tag with dagger (†) before name and move to the bottom of lists

A relatively simple feature request to alleviate a bit of an aesthetic pet peeve: I’d like to propose using a dagger (†) before an extinct taxon name, with the taxon greyed out and placed at the end of a list within the taxonomic tree. Hovering over the symbol (or taxon name) would explain to a user that the taxon is extinct. I think it would make things look a lot less clunky—I’ve seen some taxa that look a little cluttered and I think this might help address it unobtrusively (i.e. not having to remove all of the [extinct] taxa if they are simply moved to the end of the list).

A few things—I have seen some people say that † is a religious symbol. It’s not. It can be used in such a way, but it has a much broader typographic use and did not originate for that purpose. Daggers in serif typefaces are often stylised as actual daggers.

I understand iNat is not a taxonomic database and is based on users interacting with nature. I don’t believe that this infringes on that and it makes things cleaner for everyone.

If the point of the [extinct] tag is to make things clear to users and reduce subtlety, would the same not apply to the use of ! for introduced taxa, ☆ for endemics, and other symbols that are unique to iNaturalist? While I know “EX” is the technical equivalent to those symbols, I think any issues that may come about from using † would be no greater than the use of the other symbols. † is a universal symbol and the ability to hover over things for an explanation seems to solve any lingering confusion.

An argument may be to prevent fossil taxa from existing on iNat as a whole (and only allowing recently extinct taxa). I think this would be problematic as the presence of extinct taxa can offer users more insight into the histories of certain groups and encourage more curiosity and emphasis on conservation. There is a lot to be gained from allowing fossil images to be uploaded (even though they are restricted to Casual) as they can teach a lot. But I suppose that’s a different conversation.

(Just an unrelated side comment) In quantum mechanics, we use the † to indicate the Hermitian conjugate of an operator, so yes clearly used in non-religious circumstances.


Also used to denote footnotes in text where an asterisk has already been used.


I think this is a really great idea. I have also thought that the [extinct] looks cluttered and messy, so this would work better.


I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this—I don’t think I’ve seen it mentioned before on the forum so wasn’t sure if anyone else had any feelings towards it.

I also agree. To be completely honest, extinct taxa on iNat in general is really cluttered. I’m not sure if it’s been added or not since that last forum post, but I also feel like extinct taxa should automatically be obscured when posted. After all, if you run across a living thylacine and post it to iNat without obscuring the coordinates, a thousand people will be trying to get a photo or collect it. Or, you run the risk of people collecting rare fossils and them being lost to science forever. I do think the dagger would work much better though.

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I disagree that all extinct taxa should be casual or obscured. For taxa that recently went extinct, these records are extremely important, and should be shared with GBIF. For species that are long extinct, no problem - just tick “no recent evidence” in the DQA.

For example, when IUCN declares this species extinct, should any observations of it be made suddenly casual? We’re likely to see this happen increasingly in the coming years, as more and more species are driven to extinction.


fair point. might be good to have a distinction between recently extinct taxa and fossil taxa.

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Never said they should automatically be listed as casual. Just obscured, specifically because of those species being driven to extinction(as well as fossil poachers, but that is a completely different issue altogether), and the ones that could still be out there, such as E. rabborum as you mentioned. All observations of titanosaurs for example, should be listed as casual, of course.


Where are folks coming across extinct taxa? Just curious, I rarely if ever see them.

Can you provide a URL and a screenshot of an example? Just want to make sure I know what you’re referring to.

For any locked taxon group, go to the relevant page for example

Go to the taxonomy tab and click the show uncountable species link to make appear

Note a large number are grafted directly under life as standard practice for curators is to simply inactivate them as often there are missing parent nodes too high for curators to create.

this is one of the less intrusive examples, but one I can think of off the top of my head based on how often I see it. I know in Auchenorrhyncha users will sometimes import extinct taxa somehow without labelling them as extinct (and some are automatically imported); I try to update their status as I come across them.

So for a page like this, you’d want to show all the non-extinct subfamiliies in alphabetical order, then below them show the extinct species below them in alphabetical order and grayed out? I can see some utility to that if it’s possible.

I’m not convinced replacing [extinct] with a dagger is an improvement. [extinct] is pretty clear and is already translated, Adding an ambiguous symbol that requires a tooltip for explanation (which then has to be translated) seems like more work for little gain, IMO.


yes, exactly that. I personally don’t see the dagger as an ambiguous symbol since iNat is one of the few places I’ve not seen it used (and it’s universal/internationally used to denote extinct taxa), but I know I have my biases. It makes sense that it would be difficult to implement with adding a tooltip for each language, but if [extinct] is already translated for each language, would it be possible to just use those translations as the tooltips?
Overall, I think that first part is the most important and the dagger more of an added bonus.


What about observations of fossils in situ? The same kind of work that we are doing here with insects, plants, etc. could also be of interest to paleontologists trying to identify new outcrops of fossils or the location of potentially important sites. Amateur naturalists bringing fossils to the interest of paleontologists is how many important sites are found, after all.


I agree fossil finds are cool and important, but iNat’s focus is on extant or recently extinct taxa and we plan to keep it there. You can read an existing discussion about this here, and check MyFossil (which I haven’t tried but seems analogous to iNat).

Interesting. I see cross, not dagger. By extict you mean not living anymore, right? So cemeteries are full of daggers? :D I am an atheist, religious symbols means almost nothing to me, but cross is widely understand as a symbol of death, isn’t it?
“*” for date of birth, “†” for date of death, f.ex …
Term dagger implies that it was murdered to me… :D

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I’m still referring to the typographic symbol, not the Christian cross. the two can still be confused, which I understand. It’s an internationally accepted symbol of extinction, whether it be biological, linguistic, social, etc. Its use as a replacement for the asterisk is less common internationally.

I don’t see how that is affected by this feature request—I’m not proposing the removal of extinct taxa from the site, only the cleaning of the taxonomic tree to make it more ergonomic. the more extinct taxa that are imported, the messier things get, so it would be good to address this without removing anything.

I voted yes to mean separating them more in some way, not necessarily with daggers.