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Questions looking to find the name of a specific organism. Please include as much information as possible on location/habitat, size/characteristics and behavior. Ideally, you should provide images.

Usage Guidelines:

Species Identification questions get better answers if they include:

  1. One or more clear Photos.
  2. A Location where the specimen was found (city/region and/or habitat).
  3. An approximate Size (or photo indicating size).
  4. Additional useful info (e.g., behavior, time of day/year, etc...)
  5. Indication of previous research performed by the asker.
  6. A tag for a specific taxanomic group (e.g., , , , , , etc...)

Some tag-specific hints:

: try to include photo of leaf, stem/trunk, and flower/fruit. All are often needed for accurate ID.

/: there are many similar looking species. Add close-up photos (from several angles) if possible.

: please indicate whether you found the fish in marine or fresh water.

: please include photo of top and bottom of mushrooms!

Please look here for more hints.

General Information

In general; Identification is the process of determining the 'identity' or nature of a certain given object, out of a set of all known objects.

Identification is a part of Taxonomy. Taxonomy is the science of arranging informations into groups and subroups on the basis of logic. In biology, taxonomy means the science of classifying the organisms according to teir evolutionary distance.

Taxonomy in biology, has four main components, namely Description, Identification, Nomenclature and Classification DINC).

In biology, identification of a specimen means determining the identity of that specimen from a set of known organisms (which may be in a museum or a herbarium an information-repository or a database). Identification could be done up to a certain level or rank. Such as up to the family rank ('family identification'), up to genus-rank ('Genus identification'), up to species rank (species identification) etc.

The term 'identification' is applicable only when there is a record of an object in existence. For a new discovery only documentation is possible. However it is still possible to identify the upper ranks of a specimen.

To discuss a particular organism 'names' or 'identifiers' are used. In a scientific context this is the binomial scientific name. To conclude the identification the name or identifier for the organism is specified. (However the name or identifier is not the 'identity' of the organism, but is a link the organism's formal identity.

According to the group of organism, the identification could be animal identification, plant identification, fungus identification, bacteria identification etc. Fossil specimens too, are identified from existing records of other fossil and present-day specimens.

To identify an organism it is necessary to look at observable 'characters' (variables) and 'character-states' (possible values of that variable). Taking a simple example; 'colour' is a character. 'red' or 'green' or 'yellow' etc are different states of that character. If branching-pattern is a character, then racemose or cymose branching patterns are two character states for it. A character could be macroscopic or microscopic or biochemical or molecular or behavioral etc.
The logical steps or algorithms required for identification are termed identification keys. An identification key may be printed, or may be computerised. Even in case of identifying manually; we use some or some key consciously or sub-consciously.

Before asking an identification question, Please include as much information as possible on habitat (esp. where in the world you found the organism), size, and behavior, and ideally provide images. Please look here for an idea of what is required.