What is the RAREST animal/plant you have ever seen

What rare animal/plant have you gone looking for? What was it? Did you find it?

What rare encounter have you had with a plant/animals by accident? and what was it?
Mine would probably be this one - Banded Dotteral
There are only around 2500 left in the wild
and this one is not quite so rare at around 120,000 left, but that is still a very small number for an entire population - Grey Teal

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Just yesterday I happened to be looking around for a way to have iNaturalist tell you which of your observations was least observed on the website overall. I found some people asking about that, but no very good solution. So in truth, I don’t really know! In my case, I doubt it would have been a very rare species.

I looked around a bit randomly using the compare tool suggested in that thread I linked, and it looks like this one only had 107 observations, but that’s still not exceedingly rare, I suppose…

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Maybe this one is not very rare, but it is endemic to the Iberian Peninsula:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/103674246

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Small Whorled Pogonia, Isotria medeoloides, G2. I didn’t add a photo to iNat, obviously.

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I found a western capercaillie in Graubünden, Switzerland once and it was the most exciting thing ever. I also once found an african wildcat in south africa which apparently are quite rare (found it before using iNat). My most recent rare finding would be the Elvisura irrorata, but I’m not sure if it’s rare on iNaturalist because it’s hard to find or if it’s rare because noone bothers to photograph it ;)

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My most exciting sighting was probably a river dolphin with a baby in the amazon region… but population size is not known.

The officially rarest vertebrate for me is probably this one with about 1200 individuals
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/37827463

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This is kind of a cheat for me. I work with a species of monkey, the Cat Ba Langur, that is the 2nd or 3rd most endangered primate in the world. Current population (including the two recent births) places the entire wild population at 72-76 individuals. There are about 5 in captivity too.

I’ve also seen California Condors in the wild too.

There are a variety of other extremely rare species I’ve had the good fortune to see, but those are most likely the two rarest ones.

It’s not really a fair question though as my job is to keep some of these animals alive in the wild.

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My rarest is probably the Hilarimorpha fly, which is thought to be the first known photograph of a living specimen. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/54209291

It is a pretty obscure and nondescript looking fly, so I am betting it is under-documented. But it shows that it pays off to pay attention to the “boring” things.

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My rarest is most likely these Kirkaldya I keep finding in my woods Observations · iNaturalist

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Welcome to the Forum!

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I’ve seen Arabian Oryx, which though it was once extinct in the wild, has been reintroduced and populations are growing. I think there are around 1,000 in the wild. A lot more in captivity.

If you count it, I have found single specimens of undescribed species. That means one found ever by anyone, so if you count it that beats all above observations (probably not actually that rare, insects in Oman are not very well known at all. I already have found 3 families of beetles not documented from the country plus who knows how many species).

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Red Bellied Woodpecker (https://inaturalist.ca/observations/70151195). It’s not a rare bird overall, but this is at the northern edge of it’s range.

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Just the other day I observed a fly that’s apparently somewhat rare and has no previous iNat records: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/113143808

I’m under the impression it’s geographically fairly widespread in appropriate habitats but not in large numbers.

I see a lot of plant species that are very rare within a given administrative unit (usually the US State level, mostly NY) but not necessarily rare range-wide. As far as plants that are globally rare, the rarest I’ve seen is probably Bog Asphodel (Narthecium americanum) in NJ, where it’s ranked S2 G2. I photographed the dried remains of its inflorescence and had no idea what it was (I’ve only been to that region once), until a few years later I put it up on iNat and about a year after that @mertensia very helpfully put a name on it. It was a nice retrospective surprise!

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While not super rare, there are various alpine species in Colorado that people travel to Rocky Mountain NP and other spots to specifically find for their life lists. For example, White-tailed ptarmigan, Brown-capped Rosy-finch (Colorado breeding endemic), and North American Pika. Due to elevation restrictions and climate change, their populations are under threat. I thought of these from the prompt, because I’ve never specifically gone looking for them and seen dozens to hundreds on hikes around the state. Once, I literally almost stepped on a ptarmigan - scared me good when she moved.

I would guess the rarest plant I went looking for (and found easily … they’re pretty obvious) was silversword in Hawaii.

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Oddly I’ve seen silversword in Maui at least three different times but don’t seem to have a photo of it. Or I do, somewhere in my photo files. Will have to go look.

This isopod is locally common but very restricted in range, found in only one tiny desert spring:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/5274530
It actually is not extinct in the wild, as the iNat page says.

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Technically I think Rusty Patched Bumblebee (Bombus affinis) which I’ve observed twice in my native planting in my yard would be the rarest I’ve observed. Given I planted the yard to support native bees, I guess I was looking for it? Attempting to attract it?

Less commonly seen and still pretty rare the Crystal Darter (Crystallaria asprella) which is state endangered where I found it and is uncommon across at least a fair percentage of its range. That was fluke, I never though I’d see one

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When I was in college in Southern California back in the 1980s, we took a field trip to the Mt. Piños area. We saw 6 California Condors! This was before they were all captured for breeding. At that time, there were only 24 left in the world–so we saw ¼ of the entire population!

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The condors are more easily seen nowadays, such as in northern AZ where my wife and I saw about 11-12% of all the condors in the Southwest US (excluding California population) in one morning. Every one of course has a big number on its wings and a radiotransmitter hanging off of it.

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I got to see the hybrid Common Black × Red-shouldered Hawk - as far as I am aware, it is the only known individual of its kind!
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/112484425

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Mine was probably a Gargina thoria hairstreak. I found it completely by accident but I was told it was very uncommon and with very few records.

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