Nitronites - Future Fossils 16 item display

Naming groups of fossils in a way that is clear and widely agreed is an important discipline of Paleontology, and many disputes have been based simply on misunderstandings over names. “Linnaean taxonomy” is commonly used for classifying living organisms, but runs into difficulties when dealing with newly discovered organisms that are significantly different from known ones. For example: it is hard to decide at what level to place a new higher-level grouping, e.g. genus or family or order; this is important since the Linnaean rules for naming groups are tied to their levels, and so if a group is moved to a different level it must be renamed. 

Paleontologists generally use approaches based on “cladistics”, a technique for working out the evolutionary "family tree" of a set of organisms. It works by the logic that, if groups B and C have more similarities to each other than either has to group A, then B and C are more closely related to each other than either is to A. 

We apply the same Paleontological principles to our collection and classification of Nitronites. However, due to their relatively recent emergence, we are able to date Nitronites far more accurately than any Paleontologist could date any other fossil, making them a valuable addition to the emerging study of the Anthropocene epoch.

NT-SSL0P-7 Shiny-Scratched-Lettering-Pink
NT-WP000 Weathered-paper


Beyond their immediate scientific classification, individual Nitronites are named after factors based on evidential assumptions about their location, appearance and use. These are after all relics not of animals themselves but of animal behaviour

Just as with regular fossils however, where conclusions can be drawn from the organism’s position, condition and location, so we can draw conclusions about humans, and human behaviour from the circumstances of each individual Nitronite we collect and categorise. The essential facet of human behaviour we encounter is that they have a unique ability to pollute their natural habitat and must learn to clean up after themselves better.

We have so far identified 40 main categories of Nitronite (see table below), categorised according to the canisters’ condition and appearance. Further sub-categories give rise to a theoretical total (though specimens not all yet discovered) of 273 separate types of Nitronite.

The original workings All great discoveries start on the back of an envelope

Individual Classification

Individual Nitronites are classified by Name, Description, Characteristics, Location, date of recovery and Rarity, according to the following classification key:

NAME: NAME OF NITROUNITE (Finish, Condition and Oxidation)

Description: A description of the Nitrounite’s Finish, Condition and Oxidation characteristics and any other relevant features.

Characteristics: Examples of the prevalence of these and similar Nitorunites, and descriptions of the types of actions that determine their appearance and location. Also any other relevant details.

Location: Description of Location, Postcode, GRID REFERENCE

Date: The date the Nitrounite was recovered.

Prevalance: A description of the Nitrounite’s rarity, interest and value

Once collected, individual Nitronite samples are also given a unique identifying code number, which is based on the Nitronite Classification Table (see below).

Classification Table

The Nitronite Classification Table is shown below, based on the four main categories of Nitronite; Agentonites, Meteornites, Patinites and Ferronites. Each category contains as many as 17 sub-categories, which are encoded in the classification table and assigned a Rarity Value based on the following criteria;

NT-RB000 Rusty-bent


The most common category of Nitronite, Argentonites are named for their silver appearance and may have a grey or pink finish or have lettering. Examples of individual Argentonites include Fridanite, Excitanite and Dumponite.

Argentonites Classification Table


The second most common category of Nitronites are named after their weathered exteriors. Meteornites have 16 sub-categories and include Papernite, Lazinite and Ultimanite.

Meteronite Classification Table


With their name derived from their dappled patina, Patinites include Nutsonite, Twistanite and Trifoldanite.

Patinites Classification Table


The fourth major categorty of Nitronite are the Ferronites, distinct from the other categories due to their entirely rusted exterior. Examples of Ferronite include Gutteronite, Nebulanite and Bonfanite.

Ferronites Classification Table

Our collection and research continues to be published here and a full range of artworks and merchandise inspired by our Nitronite collection is available exclusively via the links below.