Collection image

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.

  • 41105_88_88

    Poecilia reticulata


    The Guppy is among the most popular aquarium fishes, with many standardized varieties.

    Sort value: 06.22

  • 04482_88_88



    For many people living outside the tropics, frangipani flowers are familiar as common components of Hawaiian leis (traditional flower garlands), although the trees are actually native to the New World tropics.

    Sort value: 999

  • 44237_88_88

    Pleurosicya boldinghi

    Soft-coral Goby

    The Soft-coral Goby is a small fish known from Japan, New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Great Barrier Reef; it is associated with soft corals of the genus Dendronephthya.

    Sort value: 999

  • 95866_88_88

    Plagiogrammus hopkinsii

    Crisscross Prickleback

    The Crisscross Prickleback is found in the eastern Pacific off central and southern California (U.S.A.); the specific epithet "hopkinsii" honors Timothy Hopkins, founder of the Seaside Laboratory at Pacific Grove (now Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University's marine laboratory).

    Sort value: 06.23

  • 60469_88_88

    Pitta nympha

    Fairy Pitta

    The Fairy Pitta is a vulnerable and declining species as a consequence of deforestation in its breeding range in northeast Asia, compounded in some areas by trapping for the cagebird trade.

    Sort value: 999

  • 03006_88_88

    Piper nigrum

    Black Pepper

    Black Pepper is a climbing vine that is not closely related to the other widely known plants that produce fruits and spices we also call "pepper".

    Sort value: 09.13

  • 64209_88_88

    Piper methysticum


    Kava is the source of sedative preparations widely used, often in social gatherings, on many South Pacific islands and, increasingly, elsewhere as well.

    Sort value: 09.11

  • 19081_88_88

    Piper betle


    Betel leaves are wrapped around seeds of the palm Areca catechu to make "betel nut", an addictive product chewed regularly by hundreds of millions of people across much of the globe.

    Sort value: 09.12

  • 67340_88_88

    Pinus echinata

    Shortleaf Pine

    Shortleaf Pine is among the most commercially important pines in the southeastern United States.

    Sort value: 03.05

  • 57884_88_88

    Pimpinella anisum


    The "seeds" (actually tiny fruits) of Anise, which is a member of the carrot family, have a range of uses in Indian and European cuisine and in the preparation of various confections and drinks.

    Sort value: 08.24

  • 27480_88_88

    Pimenta dioica


    Pimenta dioica is a small tropical tree whose dried unripe berries (in which eugenol is the main volatile oil) provide the spice called allspice (so named because it seems to combine the flavors of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg).

    Sort value: 12.31

  • 63820_88_88


    The Dung Cannon is a tiny fungus that grows on the dung of grazing mammals and uses a hydraulic mechanism to launch its spores toward vegetation where they can be inadvertently consumed by grazers, allowing the fungus to complete its life cycle.

    Sort value: 999

  • 70429_88_88

    Picea rubens

    Yellow Spruce

    Red Spruce is native to the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada and extends southward in the Appalachian Mountains to North Carolina and Tennessee, although the acreage of Red Spruce originally present in the southern Appalachian Mountains has been reduced to a fraction of what it once was by fire, clear cutting, and persistent effects of acid rain.

    Sort value: 999

  • 25289_88_88

    Physarum polycephalum

    Many-headed Slime

    Researchers have used this slime mold to investigate fundamental questions related to the dynamics and evolution of cooperation among interacting individuals.

    Sort value: 06.05

  • 13053_88_88


    Horseshoe Worms

    Phoronids have specialized blood vessels containing hemocytes with hemoglobin, which is unusual in invertebrates.

    Sort value: 999

  • 11689_88_88

    Philomycus carolinianus

    Carolina Mantleslug

    The Carolina Mantleslug is widespread in moist deciduous forests of eastern North America.

    Sort value: 999

  • 37424_88_88

    Phascolion cryptum

    This sipunculan (peanut worm) of the southeastern United States inhabits discarded gastropod shells and may occur at very high densities.

    Sort value: 999

  • 54446_88_88


    Moth Orchids

    These are by far the most popular orchids grown today.

    Sort value: 03.14

  • 08966_88_88

    Petromyzon marinus

    Sea Lamprey

    The Sea Lamprey is a jawless fish that is parasitic, feeding on the tissue and blood of a variety of fish species; it has become an invasive pest in the Great Lakes region of the United States.

    Sort value: 999

  • 02237_88_88

    Percina tanasi

    Snail Darter

    The Snail Darter is best known as a test case in the 1970s for the then-new U.S. Endangered Species Act.

    Sort value: 06.07

  • 21426_88_88


    Tongue Worms

    Tongue worms, which are parasites in the respiratory tracts of reptiles, birds, and mammals, are now often considered to be highly derived crustaceans, although their phylogenetic placement in the animal tree remains controversial.

    Sort value: 999

  • 57044_88_88

    Penicillus capitatus J. B. De Lamarck, 1813

    Shaving Brush Alga

    The Shaving Brush Alga is among the most common and conspicuous shallow water macroalgae in the Caribbean region.

    Sort value: 999

  • 16118_88_88

    Passerina versicolor

    Beautiful Bunting

    The Varied Bunting occurs in arid scrubby habitats and riparian thickets from the extreme southwestern United States south through Mexico to Guatemala.

    Sort value: 01.27

  • 35510_88_88

    Passerina ciris

    Painted Bunting

    The adult male Painted Bunting is among the most strikingly colored birds in North America.

    Sort value: 01.26

  • 41583_88_88

    Passerina caerulea

    Blue Grosbeak

    Blue Grosbeaks breed in shrubby forest edges and overgrown fields across much of the United States, Mexico, and Central America.

    Sort value: 01.25

  • 33302_88_88

    Paradoxurus hermaphroditus

    Asian Palm Civet

    The scat of this civet can be commercially valuable as the source of "civet coffee".

    Sort value: 09.24

  • 70502_88_88

    Paracheirodon axelrodi

    Cardinal Tetra

    The tiny, brilliantly colored Cardinal Tetra is very popular in the aquarium trade. It was described by an NMNH scientist.

    Sort value: 999

  • 94989_88_88

    Panulirus guttatus

    Spotted Spiny Lobster

    The Spotted Spiny Lobster is generally not of great commercial interest, but on some Caribbean islands it is marketed as luxury seafood.

    Sort value: 999

  • 23921_88_88

    Palaemonetes paludosus

    Eastern Glass Shrimp

    This transparent freshwater shrimp is often encountered in the aquarium trade.

    Sort value: 999

  • 22056_88_88


    Coral Hermit Crabs

    Unlike most hermit crabs, which are "free-living" (moving about in adopted shells), Paguritta species typically live in the tubes of polychaete annelid worms associated with corals or in self-created boreholes in living coral; among other features setting these crabs apart from nearly all other hermit crabs, they have feathered antennae that enable these stationary crabs to capture plankton carried by the water.

    Sort value: 03.20

  • 09452_88_88


    New World Vine Snakes

    This small genus of slender arboreal snakes is represented from southern Arizona (U.S.A.) south to Argentina and occurs across a range of ecological zones.

    Sort value: 999

  • 25538_88_88



    The mudskippers are a group of gobies inhabiting soft-bottomed tidal areas such as mangrove swamps and mudflat, mainly in the tropical and subtropical Indo-west Pacific (East Africa, Madagascar through Southeast Asia and Northern Australia); they are able to move around effectively on muddy land by "skipping" and flicking themselves around with their pectoral fins, which are very much like tetrapod limbs.

    Sort value: 06.13

  • 96158_88_88



    Ostracods are abundant and distinctive crustaceans found worldwide in virtually all types of aquatic environments and are known from depths of 7,000 m in the sea; although most ostracods are tiny (0.1 to 2 mm), members of at least one species can exceed 3 cm.

    Sort value: 12.11

  • 12619_88_88

    Osedax mucofloris

    Bone-eating Snot-flower Worm

    Osedax mucofloris, like other Osedax species, feeds on the bones of dead whales on the sea bottom.

    Sort value: 999

  • 97926_88_88

    Oryzias woworae

    The strikingly colored Daisy's Ricefish was described in 2010 by Smithsonian ichthyologist Lynne Parenti and Indonesian ichthyologist Renny Hadiaty and named in honor of its collector, Daisy Wowor, an Indonesian crustacean biologist.

    Sort value: 999

  • 79182_88_88



    Two of the six currently recognized oryx species, the Scimitar-horned Oryx and the Arabian Oryx, were driven to extinction in the wild, but ongoing captive breeding and reintroduction efforts appear promising.

    Sort value: 09.27

  • 32690_88_88

    Origanum vulgare


    Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is one of two economically significant species in the genus Origanum (the other being Sweet Marjoram, O. majorana).

    Sort value: 12.28

  • 73447_88_88

    Oporornis agilis (A. Wilson, 1812)

    Swamp Warbler

    The uncommon Connecticut Warbler breeds mainly in spuce and tamarack bogs and moist woodlands from southern Canada to the northernmost portions of the midwestern United States and apparently winters from Colombia and Venezuela south to Amazonian and central Brazil--but it can occur in Connecticut, where the specimen from which the species was described was taken, during fall migration.

    Sort value: 02.24

  • 78053_88_88

    Opisthostoma vermiculum

    This Malaysian snail is the only snail known whose shell has four different coiling axes.

    Sort value: 999

  • 92867_88_88

    Ocypode quadrata

    Atlantic Ghost Crab

    These pale little crabs dig deep burrows in the sand on ocean beaches from Delaware (USA) south to Brazil; they can often be spotted dashing into the surf to wet their gills or grab bits of food, although they drown if kept submerged.

    Sort value: 03.25

  • 91749_88_88

    Octopus vulgaris

    Common Octopus

    Like some other octopuses, after dining Common Octopuses leave mollusk shells and crab carapaces outside their lairs, which can help curious humans both locate them and learn about their feeding habits.

    Sort value: 999

  • 26146_88_88

    Oceanites oceanicus

    Wilson's Storm Petrel

    The Wilson's Storm-petrel is among the most abundant seabirds in the world.

    Sort value: 11.11

  • 56168_88_88

    Nyctereutes procyonoides

    Asiatic Raccoon

    Although native to eastern Asia, the Raccoon Dog has been widely introduced. It is now widespread in Europe, thriving in moist forests with abundant undergrowth.

    Sort value: 12.26

  • 67502_88_88

    Numenius borealis


    The Eskimo Curlew, which formerly bred in the treeless high Arctic tundra from western Alaska to northwestern Canada and wintered in the pampas grasslands of central Argentina and southern Brazil, was at one time extraordinarily abundant, but the last confirmed records were in the early 1960s and the species is now presumed to be extinct.

    Sort value: 01.08

  • 51407_88_88

    Nicrophorus americanus

    American Burying Beetle

    This large and strikingly colored beetle, which is now critically endangered, provides its growing larvae with carrion on which to feed.

    Sort value: 999

  • 55622_88_88


    Only a handful of specimens of these enigmatic deep sea eels have ever been collected.

    Sort value: 11.10

  • 71975_88_88


    Beetles in the genus Neochlamisus use their fecal material to construct cases within which their larvae develop.

    Sort value: 999

  • 43521_88_88

    Nemichthys scolopaceus

    Slender Snipe Eel

    The snipe eels are delicate ribbonlike deep-sea eels with compressed bodies and extremely long tapering tails; their long, slender beaklike jaws, with inward pointing teeth, are curved, bending away from each other and not closing completely (the beak disappears in mature males, which at one time were believed to represent a distinct genus!).

    Sort value: 06.29

  • 52855_88_88

    Nectophrynoides asperginis

    Kihansi Spray Toad

    The Kihansi Spray Toad, which is known from just one small area in Tanzania and was described only in 1998, was apparently extinct in the wild shortly after its discovery, largely as a result of a hydroelectric project that dramatically modified its habitat; however, an ongoing captive breeding and reintroduction project appears promising.

    Sort value: 10.24

  • 06618_88_88

    Nebria brevicollis

    European Gazelle Beetle

    This beetle is among the best known, most widely distributed, and most frequently encountered carabid beetles in Europe; in 2008, a population was discovered in western Oregon (USA), where it was presumably introduced accidentally.

    Sort value: 999