The default taxon photo for Homo sapiens

I would find it a bit bizarre if a scientific endeavor documenting life on this planet would exclude just one particular species :-)

The reason I suggested an open pool of observations, is otherwise we are perpetuating what I suppose is the reason people want to change the image - they feel the current image doesn’t represent them. If “we” curate the collection of images, someone will inevitably be left out (or feel they’ve been made invisible)

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I’ll probably be going against the flow here, but never mind…

I really, genuinely, don’t care what image is used to represent H. sapiens. First, because I think iNat’s mission should be primarily about documenting other species, not ourselves. There are billions of people out there fascinated by what other humans are doing, but not nearly enough worried about other life-forms. I recognise that some people want to add records of people but it seems a very, very trivial part of the site’s function to me. Second, we’ll never get a single image that makes everyone happy anyway, so we should accept that and give up trying.

If we’re going to be logical with respect to a species image, and treat H. sapiens the same way we treat other species:
We wouldn’t use a rotating portfolio (because we don’t do that with other species),
We wouldn’t use Linnaeus just because he’s the type (we don’t do that with other species),
We wouldn’t use a composite image / collage (we don’t do that with other species),
We wouldn’t use a skull or radiograph (because we don’t do that with other species),
We wouldn’t use a stylised person (because we don’t do that with other species),
and so on.

Logically, I think we’re left with a single image of a random individual—pretty much what we do with every other species. I’d rather it was someone completely unknown, perhaps photographed in a way that made them personally unidentifiable, but still obviously human. No one individual is going to ‘represent’ everyone and we simply have to accept that and move on. The domestic dog probably shows as much variation as humans or more, but no-one seems to worry that the taxon image there doesn’t represent all dogs.

The only real question left is what we do about clothes. We don’t cover the genitalia of other species in our taxon images, so…


Why treat H. sapiens the way we treat other species on here at all? We never do that in any other part of our society or culture! We are a very vain species, and that should be represented here as well! :)

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If you read the purpose of iNat discussions, you’ll soon find out the documentation is a side benefit. The founders are more interested in connecting people to nature and fostering a community to promote that goal. And if you think about the observations from that point of view, every observation includes a human. Kind of silly to have a human observe a human to convince users that humans are part of iNat.

Maybe the best way to deal with the Homo sapiens species page is to use a mirror (webcam looking back at you).

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It should be a woman, or maybe a woman and a man or woman and man and child. Ladies first, every thing else ist not polite.

I think a skull is an excellent idea, for the reasons stated above and also because skulls are cool. Maybe cool skulls will help encourage people to join and engage!

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No it should not be a skull. It sould be a living examle, a skull is dead, its as such a trace of homo sapiens but its not a homo sapiens, a homo sapiens is not just a skull.
It should be a natural living example, so the best would be a nude family, so we get a picture of woman, men, and may children. It should not be a sexual picture, may they can hide parts with theyr hands. All animals on inaturalist are nude too, and humans should not get special rights.

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I’m pretty sure Linnaeus and Darwin are dead too, and I’m a little concerned about your insistence on nude children…

You are taking this way too seriously for what’s suppose to be a fun app that fosters learning. The rotating pictures would be the best bet then, we would want everyone to see themselves in the site!

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I too have some observations on homo sapiens. And the actual picture buggs me too. It looks like a painting, and this feels wrong. A photo of a real homo sapiens would be good. And homo sapiens ist nothing special, just an other animal. So homo sapiens shouöld be like every other animal represented by a nude picture. To be polite, ladies first rule, but to be fair a man too. Perfect would be a group in different ages. But i agree, nude children is maybe not a good idea. How ever it must not be a sexual picture. They do not have to be super top models. But homo sapiens as they are without clothes as any other species too. They can hide body parts with theyr hands or what ever. But a natural homo sapiens would fit the best into the concept of every thing else on this site. I am sure there are even people who would enjoy to get displayed nude. How ever i am not this type. I am the type which every time feels bugged if a painting appears as a example picture, i have the same problem with capreolus capreolus, there should be a real picture too. How ever a skull is not a homo sapiens, you are not just a skull, or?

This is a really creepy concept and I wish you’d stop saying it. No one is getting naked on iNat for you.


Look at the default pictures of most species. All of them wear no clothes.
Look at this one . It is a drawing, it realy is bugging me. It should be posssible to find just any real default photo to this species, as most species are represented by a photo. This Capreolus is inconsistent among all other default pictures, sure its not the only one. i do not see it often, but every time it drives me mad.
The same problem i have with the default picture of homo sapiens, its a drawing. Now in the year 2019 i realy think it should be very possible, that this species has been photographed in real life and could provide a real picture. I can understand if there is real life picture on homo neanderthalensis, all we get today is some trace of them but no real picture of this species alive. We have to accept this and live with that because its not possible.
Homo sapiens belongs to mammalia, homo sapiens are animals. There is nothing special about homo sapiens, they are just animals. All animals on inaturalist are nude, nothing gets pixled on animals. In my understanding it would be just fair towards every other animal if homo sapiens follows the same right as every animal.
we do not see the genitals of every animal on every default picture, It has also not to be on the default picture of homo sapiens, Its not what is ask for.
I just ask to be fair, towards all other animals and not to seek special and selfish rights to the animal homo sapiens.
There are medicinal books which use nude pictures, there are science magazines which use them, anatomy books, even art books, and such pictures do not have to display every thing or to be sexual.
I also think maybe in future the world will change, evolution and so on, maybe homo sapiens will not survive. maybe the next one will be homo digitalensis, meybe the only thing that makes it into theyr time will be the database of inaturalist, in that time they should be able to search for homo sapiens and to have the possibility to tell theyr kids, look this is how homo sapiens did look like. We would do the same if we would have photos of dinosaur.
How ever if the default picture of homo sapiens will stay as it is, as a painting!!, we all and me to have to accept it. Even if we feel it is wrong. In the same way i have to accept the drawing on capreolus capreolis… but it is wrong too.
So all i say is what i feel about fairnes and wrong feeling from my point of view if it comes to drawings and special rights for some species.
I would be surprised if some one realy cares about what i think, and i would be very positively surprised if the default picture turns into a natural picture of this species.
Thats all, like it or not.

Photos of things on iNat are in their normal state most of the time. Most humans are clothed the majority of the time. But if they go with nude, it should be the Full Monty. Other species don’t cover their genitalia. Flowers even display them with vivid colors; prominently front and center.

It is pretty crazy though, all this discussion about a minor occurrence on the site, which generally isn’t actually wanted, but accepted because “people do it to try out the app”.

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Yeah I think that guy is messing with me lol. But on your last point… I don’t think it’s just that people want to try the app, like I said we’re a vain species. We’ve been painting and photographing and depicting ourselves ever since gained the ability to. It’s impossible to stop people from wanting to share pictures of themselves, so at least this gives them a space to put those pics so they aren’t taking Instagram style selfies with all their observations lol.

I think a rotating catalogue of different types of people is a really good idea, especially for a site like this one. People of color and women are unfortunately very often overlooked in the sciences, so let’s have more representation of everyone!


This conversation is getting way off topic and into territory that is not constructive. Thanks to everyone who voted and contributed, but I’m going to close this discussion.

I want to remind everyone to resist the urge to get into a back and forth on the forum. This generally leads to discussions getting off-topic and other users being turned off.