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National Museum of Natural History Species of the Day Collection

Last updated 4 months ago

This Collection contains a complete archive of all creatures featured on the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History's "Species of the Day" feature on its home page ( since 20 April 2010. The sort field contains the month and day of the last time a creature was shown. Those shown more than a year ago have '999' in the sort field.

To nominate a species, please leave us a comment in the Newsfeed with your suggestion, including why you think it would make a great Species of the Day! If you can paste a link to the species you are interested in, that would also be helpful.

  • 79899_88_88 Plantae > Fabaceae

    Cajanus cajan

    Tropical Green Pea

    Pigeon Pea is a drought-tolerant legume grown mainly in the semi-arid tropics, especially in India.

    Sort value: 08.20

  • 21811_88_88 cellular organisms > Araneidae

    Caerostris darwini

    Darwin's Bark Spider

    The recently discovered Darwin's Bark Spider of Madagascar spins an enormous web over bodies of water such as rivers and streams with anchor lines that can span up to 25 meters.

    Sort value: 999

  • 36381_88_88 Animalia > Rhabditidae

    Caenorhabditis elegans


    Caenorhabditis elegans (or "C. elegans" to those busy researchers and others without time in their day for so many syllables) is one of the most widely and thoroughly studied laboratory organisms in the fields of genetics, cell biology, development, aging, evolution, and neuroscience; in 1998, it became the first animal to have its entire genome sequence determined and it remains at the forefront of functional genomics.

    Sort value: 09.17

  • 98661_88_88 Animalia > Ardeidae

    Bubulcus ibis

    Cattle Egret

    The Cattle Egret is an Old World species that colonized northeastern South America from Africa in the 1870s and 1880s (although it may not have actually established until decades later), spread to Florida by the 1940s or 1950s, and reached California by the mid-1960s; more recently, it has colonized the Australasian region.

    Sort value: 07.27

  • 37276_88_88 Animalia > Strigidae

    Bubo scandiacus

    Snowy Owl

    The impressive Snowy Owl breeds on the open Arctic tundra of both the New World and Old World; in winter, there is some movement south and individuals are seen at least irregularly south to the northern United States (and even, rarely, the Gulf Coast), Iceland, the British Isles, northern continental Europe, central Russia, northern China, and Sakhalin, typically in open habitats such as prairie, marshes, fields, pastures, and along sandy beaches.

    Sort value: 04.13

  • 15846_88_88 Animalia > Bovidae

    Bubalus bubalis

    Asian Water Buffalo

    Domesticated Asian Water Buffalo are used widely in southern Asia and elsewhere as beasts of burden and as a source of milk (this is the milk used to make traditional buffalo mozzarella cheese).

    Sort value: 999

  • 07359_88_88 Plantae > Brassicaceae

    Brassica rapa

    Field Mustard

    Numerous varieties of this species are familiar vegetable crops, including turnips, bok choi, and napa cabbage, among others.

    Sort value: 10.28

  • 34796_88_88 Plantae > Brassicaceae

    Brassica oleracea

    Wild Cabbage

    Numerous varieties of this species are familiar vegetable crops, including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, Chinese broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, curly kale, and kohlrabi, among others.

    Sort value: 10.27

  • 55080_88_88 Plantae > Brassicaceae

    Brassica napus

    Oilseed Rape, Rutabaga, Siberian Kale

    This species is the source of canola oil and rutabagas.

    Sort value: 10.26

  • 73619_88_88 Animalia > Branchiostomidae



    Lancelets are invertebrates in the phylum Chordata and hence close relatives of vertebrate chordates such as humans.

    Sort value: 999

  • 96131_88_88 Animalia > Bradypodidae


    Three-toed Sloths

    This genus includes the four species of three-toed sloths, including a pygmy species found exclusively in Red Mangroves on a small Caribbean island off Panama.

    Sort value: 11.28

  • 13053_88_88 Animalia


    Lamp Shells

    The rich fossil history of brachiopods makes this group of particular interest to paleontologists.

    Sort value: 999

  • 78557_88_88 Animalia > Styelidae

    Botryllus schlosseri

    Golden Star Tunicate

    E pluribus unum ("From many, one") is a familiar motto in the United States, whose birthday is today; this would be an apt motto for the colonial Star Ascidian as well: each individual zooid possesses its own incurrent siphon, through which water is taken in, but all the zooids within a colony share a single, large common excurrent siphon through which water is expelled.

    Sort value: 07.04

  • 43713_88_88 Animalia > Bovidae

    Boselaphus tragocamelus


    Nilgai are native to semi-open habitats in southern Asia, but have been successfully introduced to other parts of the world, including Texas (U.S.A).

    Sort value: 12.21

  • 77420_88_88 Animalia > Diptera


    Bee Fly

    Many fly species in this family are very convincing visual mimics of bees.

    Sort value: 999

  • 50512_88_88 Animalia > Apidae

    Bombus affinis

    Rusty-patched Bumblebee

    The Rusty-patched Bumblebee was at one time among the most common bumblebee species in the eastern United States, but in recent years it has experienced a dramatic decline in numbers.

    Sort value: 999

  • 69954_88_88 Animalia > Plethodontidae

    Bolitoglossa alvaradoi

    Alvarado's Salamander

    Alvarado's Salamander is a rarely seen arboreal nocturnal salamander presumed to live in forest canopies where it makes use of bromeliad microhabitats; it is known only from several fragmented populations on the Atlantic slopes of Costa Rica in moist or wet lowland forests and premontane rainforests at elevations ranging from 700 to 1,150 m (2300 to 3750 ft).

    Sort value: 08.29

  • 49777_88_88 Plantae > Sapindaceae

    Blighia sapida


    Akee is native to West Africa, but was apparently brought to the West Indies by Captain William Bligh (who is better known for his attempts to export Breadfruit from Tahiti).

    Sort value: 11.17

  • 86181_88_88 Animalia > Soricidae

    Blarina brevicauda

    Northern Short-tailed Shrew

    Among the many interesting features of this shrew species is its poisonous saliva, which allows it to kill mice and larger prey and to paralyze invertebrates such as snails and store them alive for later consumption.

    Sort value: 03.18

  • 20146_88_88 Plantae > Asteraceae

    Bidens macroptera

    Adey Abeba

    In Ethiopia, Bidens macroptera is a symbol of peace, hope, and love. It is often displayed on the Ethiopian New Year, which usually falls on September 11, and is today's Species of the Day in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of one of the saddest days in U.S. history.

    Sort value: 999

  • 44310_88_88 Plantae > Chenopodiaceae

    Beta vulgaris

    Common Beet, Sugar Beet, Swiss Chard

    The beet, which originated in southern Europe and western Asia, has been developed into three distinct varieties specialized for different edible parts of the plant: Swiss chard, which has large leaves and prominent fleshy stems is used as a leafy vegetable; sugar beet, which has a very large, irregularly shaped fleshy root that lacks the red color typically associated with beets and is used as a source of sugar and as animal fodder; and beetroot, which has a red to purple fleshy spherical or elongated root and is used as a root vegetable.

    Sort value: 01.02

  • 24501_88_88 Animalia > Pleurotomariidae

    Bayerotrochus midas

    King Midas's Slit Shell

    This snail was described by the late Smithsonian Curator F.M. Bayer, whose birthday is today (Halloween).

    Sort value: 999

  • 36022_88_88 Fungi > Not assigned

    Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis

    Amphibian Chytrid

    This fungus is believed to play a key role in the recent (and ongoing) global amphibian extinction crisis.

    Sort value: 999

  • 95263_88_88 Animalia > Mytilidae


    Deep-sea Mussels

    Bathymodiolus mussels are among the dominant macro-organisms in chemosynthesis-based communities around hydrothermal vents and cold-water seeps in the deep sea

    Sort value: 03.16

  • 94034_88_88 Animalia > Balanidae

    Balanus glandula

    Acorn Barnacle

    The acorn barnacle is among the most abundant animals found along the rocky coastline of western North America; although at one time barnacles were mistakenly believed to be molluscs, in fact they are crustacean arthropods.

    Sort value: 11.08

  • 36123_88_88 Animalia > Balaenopteridae Gray, 1864

    Balaenoptera musculus

    Blue Whale

    In recognition of World Oceans Day, today's Species of the Day is the Blue Whale, the most massive creature in the sea--and believed to be the largest animal that has ever lived on Earth.

    Sort value: 06.08

  • 58755_88_88 Animalia > Balaenidae Gray, 1821

    Balaena mysticetus

    Bowhead Whale

    Populations of this Arctic whale were devastated by hunting, but the species appears to be recovering fairly well following the cessation of commercial whaling.

    Sort value: 999

  • 20325_88_88 Animalia > Tephritidae

    Bactrocera dorsalis

    Oriental Fruit Fly

    A native of Asia, this major tropical and subtropical agricultural pest now threatens a wide range of fruit crops in dozens of countries around the world.

    Sort value: 999

  • 75073_88_88 Animalia > Cervidae

    Axis axis


    Chital are native to southern Asia, but they have been introduced widely to several continents.

    Sort value: 11.23

  • 12017_88_88 cellular organisms > Avicennioideae

    Avicennia germinans

    Black Mangrove

    Black Mangrove grows in highly saline habitats, excreting excess salt via special leaf glands. It is a major component of mangrove swamps along many of the tropical shores of the world.

    Sort value: 04.24

  • 13235_88_88 Plantae > Poaceae

    Avena sativa

    Wild Oat

    The Common Oat (or "oats") is a member of the grass family and one of the world's major cereal crops.

    Sort value: 999

  • 09514_88_88 cellular organisms > unclassified Laminariales

    Aureophycus aleuticus

    This kelp species from the Aleutian Islands was only described in 2008.

    Sort value: 999

  • 96677_88_88 Animalia > Bufonidae

    Atelopus zeteki

    Panamanian Golden Frog

    The Panamanian Golden Frog, Panama's national animal, has experienced population declines of more than 80% during the first decade of the 21st century.

    Sort value: 999

  • 96677_88_88 Animalia > Bufonidae


    Harlequin Frogs

    Many harlequin frog species have suffered extreme population declines or extinction in recent years, with the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which has devastated many amphibian populations, presumably playing a major role.

    Sort value: 12.06

  • 54754_88_88 Animalia > Gorgonocephalidae

    Astrotoma agassizii

    Recent studies suggest that this brittle star of the Southern Ocean may actually represent a complex of two or more cryptic species with different developmental modes.

    Sort value: 999

  • 48216_88_88 Plantae > Annonaceae

    Asimina triloba


    The Pawpaw is a northern temperate representative of a primarily tropical plant family, the Annonaceae.

    Sort value: 999

  • 32697_88_88 Plantae > Moraceae

    Artocarpus heterophyllus


    The fruit of this tree, a relative of the Breadfruit, is the largest treefruit known.

    Sort value: 999

  • 89916_88_88 Plantae > Moraceae

    Artocarpus altilis


    The Bounty of "Mutiny on the Bounty" fame had sailed to Tahiti to collect Breadfruit trees to bring back to the West Indies.

    Sort value: 999

  • 41244_88_88 Plantae > Brassicaceae

    Armoracia rusticana


    Commercial production of Horseradish occurs mainly in the United States (led by the State of Illinois) and Europe.

    Sort value: 08.26

  • 67013_88_88 Fungi > Physalacriaceae

    Armillaria ostoyae

    Dark Honey Fungus

    This fungus is one of the leading contenders for "largest organism in the world"—at least as measured in hectares or acres.

    Sort value: 999

  • 64037_88_88 Plantae > Aristolochiaceae

    Aristolochia californica

    California Dutchman's Pipe

    This species is a host for caterpillars of the Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, which sequester toxic compounds from their host, making the caterpillars unpalatable to birds.

    Sort value: 07.31

  • 41386_88_88 Plantae > Arecaceae

    Areca catechu

    Areca Palm

    The seed of this palm ("areca nut") ranks among the most important stimulant products in the world, used by around 200 to 600 million people globally.

    Sort value: 10.01

  • 15722_88_88 Animalia > Arcticidae

    Arctica islandica

    Icelandic Cyprine

    Individual Ocean Quahogs may live for hundreds of years.

    Sort value: 999

  • 48200_88_88 Plantae > Araliaceae

    Aralia spinosa

    Devil's Walkingstick

    The Devil's Walkingstick is named for the sharp spines that cover much of the plant; native to eastern North America, it is easily confused with the Asian Aralia elata, which is rapidly becoming a problem in the eastern U.S. as an invasive species.

    Sort value: 03.31

  • 45844_88_88 Plantae > Fabaceae

    Arachis hypogaea


    This species originated and was domesticated in South and Central America 3,500 years ago and is now grown in tropical and warm-temperate regions worldwide for its seeds and the oil extracted from them; the peanut "shells" are actually the underground seed-containing pods of this legume.

    Sort value: 10.17

  • 60188_88_88 Plantae > Brassicaceae

    Arabidopsis thaliana

    Thale Cress

    In recent decades this species has become the most widely used plant model in experimental biology.

    Sort value: 09.16

  • 09999_88_88 Plantae > Brassicaceae



    The genus Arabidopsis includes a small number of generally unassuming, sometimes weedy, species in the mustard family (Brassicaceae)--but among them is Arabidopsis thaliana, which has become a central model organism for plant biologists much as the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster and its relatives have long been for biologists studying fundamental questions in animals.

    Sort value: 09.15

  • 52451_88_88 Animalia > Apodidae

    Apus apus

    Common Swift

    Like other swifts, the Common Swift spends most of its life in flight.

    Sort value: 04.28

  • 52174_88_88 Animalia > Phoridae

    Apocephalus borealis

    Apocephalus borealis is a species of North American phorid fly that parasitizes bumblebees, honey bees and wasps; this species has been suggested as a possible vector promoting the spread of the pathogens responsible for colony collapse disorder in Honeybees.

    Sort value: 08.19

  • 64315_88_88 Animalia > Apidae

    Apis mellifera

    European Honey Bee

    Although honeybees are perhaps best known as a source of honey in much of the world, including regions where they are not native such as North America, their role in pollination is of far greater significance from both an ecological and economic perspective.

    Sort value: 999