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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.

  • 54781_88_88

    Nautilus belauensis

    Chambered Nautilus

    This many-tentacled cephalopod mollusk is native to the waters around the Pacific island nation of Palau.

    Sort value: 999

  • 85324_88_88

    Myxine glutinosa

    Atlantic Hagfish

    Hagfishes produce large quantities of slime when threatened.

    Sort value: 999

  • 55156_88_88


    New World Honeypot Ants

    In a colony of honeypot ants, certain workers, known as "repletes", are used as storage receptacles for liquid food.

    Sort value: 999

  • 43728_88_88

    Mylossoma duriventre

    Silver Mylossoma

    This South American freshwater fish, a species of pacu, is a close relative of the piranhas and is often encountered in the aquarium trade.

    Sort value: 07.03

  • 58927_88_88

    Mustela nigripes

    Black-footed Ferret

    Although recovery efforts face ongoing challenges, the status of the Black-footed Ferret is distinctly better than it was in 1981, when a ranch dog in Wyoming brought home a dead ferret, proving the species was not extinct.

    Sort value: 02.13

  • 70838_88_88



    The dozen muntjac species are found in Southeast Asia, southern China, and India; these deer have been of great interest to evolutionary biologists because of their striking diversity in chromosome number, although most species are little known and several were not even discovered (or, in the case of Roosevelts' Muntjac, rediscovered) until the end of the 20th or dawn of the 21st century.

    Sort value: 12.22

  • 93489_88_88


    Musk Deer

    The musk-deer may be more closely related to cattle and antelopes (family Bovidae) than to the deer (family Cervidae); male musk-deer have long, slender, curved upper canines (used for fighting), a large glandular musk-producing sac on the belly in front of the genitalia (the source of their name), and a glandular tail.

    Sort value: 12.23

  • 60511_88_88

    Morone saxatilis

    Striped Bass

    The Striped Bass is a highly prized sportfish that is native to the Atlantic coast of North America, but has been introduced to the Pacific Coast, as well as to waters in Ecuador, Iran, Latvia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and Turkey.

    Sort value: 07.18

  • 81021_88_88

    Monodon monoceros


    The male Narwhal's single long tusk is actually an upper-jaw tooth that grows through the lip and keeps on growing.

    Sort value: 999

  • 65516_88_88

    Mola mola

    Ocean Sunfish

    The Ocean Sunfish, which may exceed a ton in weight and three meters in length and is found worldwide in both tropical and temperate ocean regions, is often spotted floating calmly at the surface.

    Sort value: 999

  • 18200_88_88

    Mniotilta varia

    Black-and-white Warbler

    The Black-and-white Warbler, which breeds across much of Canada and the eastern United States, is unusual among warblers in its habit of creeping up and down tree trunks and along limbs.

    Sort value: 12.03

  • 74136_88_88

    Mnemiopsis leidyi A. Agassiz, 1865

    Sea Walnut

    This ctenophore is native to the western Atlantic, but has been widely established as an ecologically disruptive invasive species in European seas.

    Sort value: 999

  • 57395_88_88

    Mermis nigrescens

    Larvae of this nematode (roundworm) are parasites of orthopteran insects such as grasshoppers; they burrow out of the host to reach the soil, where they molt into adults.

    Sort value: 999

  • 08531_88_88

    Mentha piperita L. (pro sp.)


    Peppermint is a hybrid resulting from a cross of Water Mint and Spearmint.

    Sort value: 11.26

  • 11701_88_88

    Melanoplus spretus

    Rocky Mountain Locust

    The Rocky Mountain Locust was a devastating crop pest in North America until the late 1800s, when it went extinct rather quickly and mysteriously.

    Sort value: 999

  • 02009_88_88

    Melanerpes erythrocephalus

    Red-headed Woodpecker

    The Red-headed Woodpecker, which is found across much of the United States and adjacent Canada (although it is uncommon over much of its range), has an entirely red head.

    Sort value: 01.15

  • 55162_88_88

    Melanerpes carolinus

    Red-bellied Woodpecker

    The reddish patch on the belly of the Red-bellied Woodpecker is not typically visible in the field, but the red on the crown and nape of the male (and nape of the female) are very conspicuous; the breeding range of this species has been extending northward for many years.

    Sort value: 01.16

  • 08007_88_88

    Megalopta genalis

    Unlike the vast majority of bee species, which are strongly diurnal, these bees forage just before dawn and just after sunset.

    Sort value: 999

  • 14101_88_88

    Megaloprepus caerulatus

    Giant Helicopter Damselfly

    Adult Giant Helicopter Damselflies feed on orb-weaving spiders, which they pluck from their webs in the forest understory.

    Sort value: 999

  • 40506_88_88

    Megacopta cribraria

    Bean Plataspid

    This plataspid bug is native to the Old World, but since at least 2009 has been spreading through the southeastern United States, where its taste for leguminous plants may help control invasive Kudzu, but could also harm native species and important agricultural crops such as Soybean.

    Sort value: 05.02

  • 31521_88_88

    Meconema thalassinum

    Drumming Katydid

    This unusual little katydid (or bush-cricket) communicates by drumming on leaves rather than generating sounds by rubbing its wings together as most katydids and crickets do.

    Sort value: 999

  • 40371_88_88

    Marrus orthocanna

    Marrus orthocanna is a deep-water Arctic colonial jellyfish; the gas-filled float is yellow-orange and the swimming units are translucent with bright red canals.

    Sort value: 999

  • 86356_88_88

    Marmota monax

    Woodchuck Or Groundhog

    According to a tradition going back at least to the mid-19th century in the United States (and brought to the attention of a much broader audience by the 1993 film Groundhog Day), if a Groundhog emerges from its burrow on February 2 and sees its shadow, it will return to the burrow for another six weeks of winter; if the weather is overcast, it will emerge and winter will soon turn to spring.

    Sort value: 999

  • 96658_88_88



    This enigmatic group of African insects was first discovered by scientists in 2002.

    Sort value: 999

  • 08049_88_88



    After hatching, the larvae of many mantispid species locate and develop within spider egg sacs, feeding on the eggs.

    Sort value: 999

  • 24493_88_88



    The eight species of pangolins, which are found only in Asia and Africa, can use their powerful tails as effective weapons in defense, but they can also curl their well-armored bodies into a thoroughly protected ball.

    Sort value: 10.04

  • 20179_88_88

    Malus domestica

    Orchard Apple

    The Orchard Apple originated in western Asia and is now one of the most widely cultivated fruit trees in the world.

    Sort value: 999

  • 75520_88_88

    Malacosoma americana

    Eastern Tent Caterpillars

    The silk tents constructed in the crotches of tree branches in the spring by cohorts of newly hatched Eastern Tent Caterpillars are a familiar sight in eastern North America.

    Sort value: 999

  • 26311_88_88


    Elephant Shrews Or Sengis

    Despite the name, elephant shrews are not closely related to shrews--in fact, they are members of the Afrotheria and therefore more closely related to elephants than to shrews.

    Sort value: 10.06

  • 95576_88_88

    Macheiramphus alcinus

    Bat Hawk

    The Bat Hawk, which is found in both sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, hunts largely at dusk (and even through moonlit nights), feeding mainly on small insectivorous bats.

    Sort value: 999

  • 63050_88_88

    Macadamia ternifolia


    Although native to Australia, Macadamia Nut trees are often associated with Hawaii because they were exported there in the 1880s and Hawaii dominated global production of the nuts from the 1930s until the 1980s, at one time producing 90% of the world's commercial supply.

    Sort value: 11.21

  • 47654_88_88

    Lucanus cervus

    Stag Beetle

    This stag beetle is found throughout Europe, and East Asia as far as Japan, although it is rare or declining in some countries.

    Sort value: 07.13

  • 18960_88_88

    Lophodolos acanthognathus

    Whalehead Dreamer

    The Whalehead Dreamer lures prey to its mouth with bioluminescence emitted from its esca, a fleshy structure that serves as a lure; in contrast to most bioluminescent deep-sea fish, the light produced by ceratioid anglerfishes (the group including the Whalehead Dreamer) is not endogenous, but rather is produced by bacteria in the esca. It is known from fewer than 160 specimens.

    Sort value: 11.12

  • 08076_88_88


    Several species of Loligo squids are the targets of important fisheries.

    Sort value: 999

  • 52921_88_88

    Lodoicea maldivica


    The Double Coconut, endemic to the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean, produces the largest seeds in the plant kingdom.

    Sort value: 999

  • 31088_88_88

    Locusta migratoria

    Migratory Locust

    The Migratory Locust is the most widespread locust species and the only species in its genus; it occurs throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

    Sort value: 999

  • 78366_88_88

    Littoraria angulifera

    Mangrove Periwinkle

    Populations of this mangrove-dwelling snail from the coasts of Texas and Florida (U.S.A.) to Brazil and from the coast of West Africa appear truly to belong to the same species, despite the enormous expanse of ocean separating them.

    Sort value: 999

  • 89446_88_88

    Litopenaeus vannamei

    Pacific White Shrimp, White Shrimp

    This species is widely farmed; marine conservationists view the farming methods generally used in the United States as relatively environmentally benign, but in some parts of the world production of these prawns has very negative environmental impacts.

    Sort value: 11.05

  • 44893_88_88

    Lindera benzoin

    Northern Spicebush

    Like many members of the family Lauraceae, Spicebush, a common understory shrub in forests of the eastern United States, has leaves that are strongly aromatic when crushed, a distinctive feature in its range.

    Sort value: 03.12

  • 79072_88_88


    Limatula are tiny bivalve mollusks in the file shell family that are found in ocean sediments throughout the world.

    Sort value: 999

  • 91645_88_88

    Leuresthes tenuis

    California Grunion

    The California Grunion is famous for its remarkable springtime spawning behavior that takes place not in the water, but at extreme high tides on sandy beaches on nights just after the full moon and the new moon.

    Sort value: 999

  • 87889_88_88


    Black Corals

    These long-lived, slow-growing corals are deep-water corals, occurring at depths of at least 450 meters, far beyond the depth at which the photosynthetic symbionts characteristic of many other corals can function.

    Sort value: 999

  • 60994_88_88

    Leiolepis ngovantrii

    Ngo Van Tri's Lady Butterfly Lizard

    This asexually reproducing lizard was described from Vietnam in 2010.

    Sort value: 999

  • 92245_88_88

    Lasioglossum asteris

    A Sweat Bee

    This sweat bee is a social parasite, laying its eggs in the ground nests of a related species.

    Sort value: 999

  • 40321_88_88

    Lampris guttatus


    Opah are found worldwide in subtropical and temperate seas (apparently avoiding equatorial waters), including the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas, from the surface to a depth of around 500 m.

    Sort value: 999

  • 12419_88_88

    Lamellibrachia luymesi

    Vestimentiferan Tubeworms

    These deep-sea tubeworms, which inhabit cold methane seeps between 400 and 700 meters below the surface in the northern Gulf of Mexico, have no gut, mouth, or anus; they obtain their nutrition from internal sulfur-oxidizing chemosynthetic bacteria.

    Sort value: 999

  • 89640_88_88

    Lama pacos


    The alpaca was domesticated and selectively bred in South America as a source of high quality fiber and meat.

    Sort value: 999

  • 60722_88_88

    Lama guanicoe


    The South American Guanaco is the wild ancestor of the domestic llama, which is widely used as a pack animal in the Andes.

    Sort value: 999

  • 31609_88_88

    Laguncularia racemosa (L.) C. F. Gaertn.

    White Mangrove

    White Mangove is a major component of mangrove communities in the New World tropics and tropical West Africa. High salt concentrations in its leaves may protect the plant from fungal infections.

    Sort value: 04.23

  • 25431_88_88 Fungi > Lactarius Pers. 1797

    Lactarius indigo

    Indigo Milk Cap

    The striking Indigo Milk Cap is one of a relatively small number of truly blue mushrooms.

    Sort value: 999