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National Museum of Natural History Species of the Day Collection

Last updated over 3 years 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.

  • 14673_88_88


    Bolas Spiders

    Bolas spiders are among the small number of spiders known to actively attract prey (such as small moths or flies) by mimicking the airborne pheromones of their prey.

    Sort value: 999

  • 90730_88_88



    Archaeans represent one of the three major groups of living organisms in most modern classifications, the other two being the Bacteria and the Eukaryotes (animals, plants, fungi, and various lineages of "protists"); many archaeans live in extreme environments where we once believed no life could exist.

    Sort value: 999

  • 44446_88_88

    Crepidula fornicata


    These snails are sequential hermaphrodites: the largest and oldest animals, at the base of a stack, are female, whereas the younger and smaller animals at the top are male.

    Sort value: 999

  • 15842_88_88

    Taenia saginata

    Beef Tapeworm

    Humans are the only definitive host (i.e. the host in which adult parasites live and reproduce) for the Beef Tapeworm.

    Sort value: 05.18

  • 75751_88_88

    Trypanosoma brucei

    African Sleeping Sickness Trypanosome

    This trypanosome blood parasite, transmitted by tsetse flies, is the cause of African Sleeping Sickness in humans.

    Sort value: 05.24

  • 14538_88_88

    Anoplophora glabripennis

    Asian Longhorned Beetle

    The Asian Longhorned Beetle was accidentally introduced to both North America and Europe, where it threatens widespread devastation of hardwood trees if efforts to control it are unsuccessful.

    Sort value: 999

  • 81955_88_88

    Pediculus humanus capitis

    Head Louse

    Human Head Lice and Human Body Lice are relatively recently diverged varieties of what is generally treated as a single species (the Pubic Louse is a distinct species).

    Sort value: 9999

  • 00377_88_88

    Herpestes javanicus

    Marsh Mongoose

    This species includes a subspecies, the Small Indian Mongoose, which was intentionally introduced in the late 19th century to a variety of tropical islands to control rats and snakes, but these introduced carnivores have unfortunately been far more effective in devastating native birds and other fauna.

    Sort value: 05.31

  • 70190_88_88

    Herpestes javanicus auropunctatus

    Small Indian Mongoose

    In the late 19th century, the Small Indian Mongoose was intentionally introduced to a variety of tropical islands to control rats and snakes, but these introduced carnivores have unfortunately been far more effective in devastating native birds and other fauna.

    Sort value: 9999

  • 55964_88_88

    Felis silvestris

    Common Wild Cat

    This species includes the now uncommon Scottish Wildcat that occurs in norther Scotland. The species, a close relative of the domestic cat, was once widespread in Britain; it still has a broad distribution elsewhere in Eurasia and Africa.

    Sort value: 999

  • 16363_88_88

    Felis silvestris grampia

    Scottish Wildcat

    Although once widespread in Britain, the Wildcat, a close relative of the domestic cat, is now found there only in northern Scotland, where it is uncommon, although it still has a broad distribution elsewhere in Eurasia and Africa.

    Sort value: 9999

  • 16570_88_88

    Daucus carota subsp. sativus

    Domesticated Carrot

    The domesticated carrot is a popular vegetable around the world – and its wild ancestor now also has an extremely wide distribution.

    Sort value: 9999

  • 58785_88_88

    Pueraria montana var. lobata


    Kudzu is native to eastern Asia, but spread dramatically across the southeastern United States during the latter half of the 20th century.

    Sort value: 9999

  • 48722_88_88

    Swima bombiviridis

    Green Bomber

    The name of this polychaete worm refers to a series of green spheres attached just behind the head that are easily shed by the animal when it is disturbed and subsequently glow with green light for up to a minute.

    Sort value: 05.29

  • 15233_88_88

    Sternarchorhynchus retzeri

    Retzer's Elephant-nose Knifefish

    Retzer's Elephant-nose Knifefish, which is found in the Amazon basin of South America, has electrogenic abilities, using the generated electric field to aid in the location and capture of prey living in the mud, leaf litter and other detritus.

    Sort value: 06.24

  • 09873_88_88

    Myiarchus crinitus

    Great Crested Flycatcher

    Great Crested Flycatchers spend most of their time high in the tree canopy; their loud calls are heard more frequently than the birds are seen.

    Sort value: 02.26

  • 07952_88_88


    Australiasian Treefrog

    The treefrog genus Litoria includes around 150 species, with representatives found in Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia, and nearby islands in the western Pacific.

    Sort value: 02.15

  • 53471_88_88

    Sternarchorhynchus roseni

    Rosen’s Tube Snout Electric Knifefish

    This unusual fish uses its electrical sensory system to locate small prey items, usually insects, hiding in mud and debris at the bottom of large rivers.

    Sort value: 999

  • 89929_88_88


    Calthrop Family

    On this last day of the year, our "Species" of the Day is the plant family Zygophyllaceae, the last plant family in D.J. Mabberley's classic dictionary of plants.

    Sort value: 999

  • 86072_88_88

    Ziziphus spina-christi

    Christ's Thorn Jujube

    This tree is believed by many to have provided the crown of thorns said to have been placed on Jesus' head before he was crucified.

    Sort value: 12.25

  • 50035_88_88

    Zingiber officinale


    Ginger reproduces exclusively asexually and flowers are seldom seen on culinary Ginger plants; the species originated in Southeast Asia, but it is not known in the wild.

    Sort value: 12.29

  • 54548_88_88

    Wolbachia pipientis

    Wolbachia pipientis bacteria infect many insects, spiders, mites, isopods, and nematodes (roundworms), often manipulating the sex ratio of their hosts to their own benefit; some nematode parasites of humans seem to require infection by Wolbachia for their survival and reproduction.

    Sort value: 999

  • 79566_88_88

    Vitellaria paradoxa C. F. Gaertn.

    Shea Butter

    Shea Tree is native to the Sahel region of West Africa and is a key species in traditional agroforestry systems and an important source of edible oil (shea butter), which is derived from the seeds; shea butter is also used in cosmetics, skin emollients, and pharmaceuticals and has become increasingly popular outside Africa for these uses in the past several decades, increasing its value as a cash crop.

    Sort value: 02.07

  • 85743_88_88

    Vireo griseus

    White-eyed Vireo

    The White-eyed Vireo breeds in the eastern United States and northeastern Mexico and winters from the southeastern United States south to northern Central America; these small birds typically skulk in dense thickets in which they are often difficult to spot, but they produce a loud and distinctive song.

    Sort value: 01.18

  • 96804_88_88

    Vireo flavifrons

    Yellow-throated Vireo

    Despite its bright yellow "spectacles", throat, and breast, the Yellow-throated Vireo can be difficult to spot as it moves about in the foliage high up in a tree.

    Sort value: 01.19

  • 79839_88_88

    Vespa crabro

    European Hornet

    This wasp has a reputation for packing an unusually potent sting, but in fact is not especially dangerous to people (except those allergic to bee and wasp venom) and is actually notably unaggressive away from its nest.

    Sort value: 999

  • 02368_88_88


    Vesicomyid clams are often found in sulphide-rich habitats in the deep sea.

    Sort value: 999

  • 19407_88_88

    Vermivora bachmanii

    Bachman's Wood Warbler

    Bachman's Warbler, which bred in the bottomland forests and canebrakes of the southeastern United States and wintered almost exclusively in Cuba, was first collected by the Reverend John Bachman in South Carolina and formally described by his friend John James Audubon shortly thereafter in 1833; its existence was subsequently largely forgotten for half a century until it was rediscovered in the late 19th century and by the latter half of the 20th century it was headed toward extinction (the last undisputed sighting was of a single bird near Charleston, South Carolina, in 1962).

    Sort value: 01.07

  • 72455_88_88

    Varroa destructor

    Varroa Honeybee Mite

    This parasitic mite, first recognized as a distinct species only a decade ago, is probably the single most serious threat to honeybees in much of the world.

    Sort value: 04.30

  • 57691_88_88


    Candirus, Vampire Catfishes

    The catfishes in this subfamily have the unusual habit of feeding on the blood of larger fish.

    Sort value: 09.30

  • 39476_88_88



    Vaccinium is a genus of around 500 species of deciduous and evergreen dwarf, prostrate, or erect shrubs, vines, and trees in the Ericaceae (heath family) that includes blueberries, cranberries, lingonberries, and bilberries.

    Sort value: 01.14

  • 35768_88_88



    Although they may not look much like us superficially, tunicates are among the very closest relatives of the vertebrates.

    Sort value: 999

  • 01616_88_88



    Although tulips are closely associated in the minds of many with The Netherlands, various wild tulip species occur naturally in temperate regions across southern Europe and central Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East.

    Sort value: 09.29

  • 87833_88_88

    Trichobatrachus robustus

    Hairy Frog

    Males of this large West African frog species have hair-like dermal papillae.

    Sort value: 999

  • 75614_88_88

    Traskorchestia traskiana

    Pacific Beach Hopper

    This amphipod is commonly encountered along beaches on the Pacific coast of North America.

    Sort value: 999

  • 31072_88_88

    Trapa natans

    Water Caltrop

    Water Chestnut is viewed by humans quite differently in different parts of the world: it is cultivated for food in Asia, it is a species of conservation concern in Europe and Russia, and in the northeastern United States, where it was introduced in the mid-1800s, it has spread widely and is viewed as a nuisance weed.

    Sort value: 02.10

  • 48891_88_88



    Archerfishes are best known for their ability to capture non-aquatic insects by shooting a jet of water with remarkable precision to knock their prey into the water, often as the prey sits on a perch above the fish.

    Sort value: 06.06

  • 53531_88_88

    Thysania agrippina

    White Witch

    The White Witch has the largest reported wing span (if not wing area) of all lepidopterans (butterflies and moths).

    Sort value: 03.24

  • 88104_88_88

    Thymus vulgaris

    Garden Thyme

    Thyme is a native of southern Europe, although it now grows more widely both wild and in cultivation.

    Sort value: 09.10

  • 31728_88_88

    Thermus aquaticus

    Enzymes derived from this bacterium have played a critical role in the modern revolution in genetic research, genetic engineering, and biotechnology.

    Sort value: 999

  • 73725_88_88

    Theodoxus niloticus

    This neritid snail is apparently found only in the Nile River in Egypt.

    Sort value: 999

  • 25095_88_88

    Tetranematichthys wallacei

    Wallace's Catfish

    This catfish, first described in 2006, was apparently collected a century and a half earlier by Alfred Russel Wallace, although only a recently discovered drawing survives as evidence.

    Sort value: 06.02

  • 68682_88_88



    Tapirs are one of the three groups of "odd-toed" hoofed mammals (the other two groups being the horses and rhinoceroses).

    Sort value: 11.29

  • 86663_88_88

    Taeniopoda reticulata

    Lubber Grasshopper

    The striking coloration of these grasshoppers is believed to be a warning to predators that they are toxic; when threatened, they display their bright red underwings, arch their abdomen, and march about.

    Sort value: 999

  • 75300_88_88

    Synsepalum dulcificum

    Miracle Berry

    Miracleberry is best known for its red berries, which contain a glycoprotein known as miraculin; miraculin has the remarkable property of modifying sour tastes into into sweet, although it is not itself sweet.

    Sort value: 07.25

  • 54809_88_88

    Syngnathoides biaculeatus

    Alligator Pipefish

    The Alligator Pipefish is thought to be the most heavily exploited pipefish in traditional Chinese medicine.

    Sort value: 999

  • 30736_88_88


    Pipefishes and Seahorses

    Males in this fish family (which includes seahorses, pipefishes, and seadragons) carry the fertilized eggs either in a ventral pouch or on their tails and protect the eggs until they hatch.

    Sort value: 06.12

  • 42397_88_88

    Synalpheus regalis

    Royal Snapping Shrimp

    This remarkable shrimp lives within live sponges in large colonies consisting of a single breeding female “queen” and typically 100 or more non-breeding workers that jointly defend the sponge against intruders.

    Sort value: 06.01

  • 40815_88_88

    Styela clava

    Asian Clubbed Tunicate

    This sea squirt has become an invasive pest in several regions of the world.

    Sort value: 999

  • 05839_88_88

    Strigops habroptila


    The highly endangered Kakapo of New Zealand is unusual in many ways, not least of which are that it is a nocturnal and flightless parrot.

    Sort value: 999