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National Museum of Natural History Species of the Day Collection

Last updated 12 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.

  • 70875_88_88 Animalia > Alcidae

    Pinguinus impennis

    Great Auk

    By the mid-19th century, these flightless birds of the North Atlantic had been driven to extinction at least in large part by human exploitation.

    Sort value: 999

  • 57884_88_88 Plantae > Apiaceae

    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 Plantae > Myrtaceae

    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 Fungi > Pilobolaceae


    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 Plantae > Pinaceae

    Picea rubens

    Red 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

  • 74425_88_88 cellular organisms > Pinaceae

    Picea abies

    Norway Spruce

    The European Spruce is one of the most economically important coniferous species in Europe and the most widely cultivated spruce species in North America.

    Sort value: 999

  • 36220_88_88 Protozoa > Physaraceae

    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

  • 53406_88_88 Animalia > Syngnathidae

    Phycodurus eques

    Glauert's Sea-dragon

    The males, not the females, of these beautifully camouflaged relatives of pipefishes and seahorses carry the developing eggs

    Sort value: 999

  • 13053_88_88 Biota > Animalia


    Horseshoe Worms

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

    Sort value: 999

  • 41077_88_88 Plantae > Arecaceae

    Phoenix dactylifera

    Date Palm

    Dates have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia and Babylonia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 BCE.

    Sort value: 999

  • 33972_88_88 Animalia > Phocidae

    Phoca vitulina

    Common Seal

    Harbor Seals (or Common Seals) are found throughout coastal waters of the Northern Hemisphere, from temperate to Polar Regions.

    Sort value: 07.15

  • 11689_88_88 Animalia > Philomycidae

    Philomycus carolinianus

    Carolina Mantleslug

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

    Sort value: 999

  • 49261_88_88 Animalia > Phasianidae

    Phasianus colchicus

    Common Pheasant

    Although native to Asia, the Common (or Ring-necked) Pheasant was introduced to, and is now established in, most of Europe, New Zealand, and North America, as well as on all the main islands of Hawaii.

    Sort value: 10.07

  • 37424_88_88 Animalia > Phascoliidae

    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

  • 09457_88_88 Fungi > Phallaceae

    Phallus impudicus


    The Common Stinkhorn shares with other stinkhorn species a generally phallic appearance and a foul-smelling spore mass that attracts flies, which disperse the spores.

    Sort value: 999

  • 13057_88_88 Animalia > Scolopacidae

    Phalaropus tricolor

    Wilson's Phalarope

    Phalaropes are among the small minority of birds in which females are larger and more colorful than males and typical avian sex roles are reversed.

    Sort value: 03.13

  • 54446_88_88 Plantae > Orchidaceae


    Moth Orchids

    These are by far the most popular orchids grown today.

    Sort value: 03.14

  • 57164_88_88 Plantae > Apiaceae

    Petroselinum crispum


    Parsley, a member of the carrot family, is probably native to southern Europe, but is now cultivated and naturalized in many temperate regions of the world.

    Sort value: 09.07

  • 04514_88_88 Animalia > Petromyzontidae

    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

  • 41702_88_88 Animalia > Petauridae

    Petaurus breviceps

    Sugar Glider

    The Sugar Glider, which is native to Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia, is a popular pet in much of the world, being both captured (often illegally) in the wild and being bred in captivity specifically for the pet trade.

    Sort value: 08.22

  • 02237_88_88 Animalia > Percidae

    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 Animalia > Maxillopoda Dahl, 1956


    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 Plantae > Udoteaceae

    Penicillus capitatus

    Shaving Brush Alga

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

    Sort value: 999

  • 74830_88_88 Plantae > Apiaceae

    Pastinaca sativa


    Parsnip was introduced to North America shortly after European settlement as an important root crop. It subsequently escaped cultivation here and elsewhere and naturalized as a less palatable weedy "wild" form.

    Sort value: 11.25

  • 93141_88_88 Animalia > Cardinalidae

    Passerina versicolor

    Varied 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

  • 32657_88_88 Animalia > Cardinalidae

    Passerina cyanea

    Indigo Bunting

    The Indigo Bunting and Lazuli Bunting are closely related species that hybridize where their breeding ranges overlap in the western Great Plains and eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains of North America.

    Sort value: 01.28

  • 35510_88_88 Animalia > Cardinalidae

    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 Animalia > Cardinalidae

    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

  • 79160_88_88 Animalia > Cardinalidae

    Passerina amoena

    Lazuli Bunting

    The Lazuli Bunting and Indigo Bunting are closely related species that hybridize where their breeding ranges overlap in the western Great Plains and eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains of North America.

    Sort value: 01.29

  • 46275_88_88 Animalia > Passeridae

    Passer montanus

    Eurasian Tree Sparrow

    Although this native of most of Europe and Asia was introduced St. Louis, Missouri (U.S.A.), and Melbourne, Australia, in the late 19th century, it has still not expanded beyond western Illinois and adjacent Missouri and Iowa in North America and southeastern Victoria and New South Wales in Australia, providing an example of a well established exotic species that is clearly not invasive (at least in its current ecological context).

    Sort value: 999

  • 30523_88_88 Animalia > Passeridae

    Passer domesticus

    House Sparrow

    The House Sparrow, native to Eurasia and the northern edge of Africa but widely introduced around the world, has recently declined significantly in parts of its native range and in North America.

    Sort value: 999

  • 71141_88_88 Animalia > Viverridae

    Paradoxurus hermaphroditus

    Common Palm Civet

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

    Sort value: 09.24

  • 70502_88_88 Animalia > Characidae

    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

  • 73634_88_88 Plantae > Papaveraceae

    Papaver somniferum

    Opium Poppy

    Opium poppy is the source not only of heroin and other drugs, but also poppy seeds and poppy oil. It is also a common ornamental plant.

    Sort value: 08.17

  • 94989_88_88 Animalia > Palinuridae

    Panulirus guttatus

    Spotted Crawfish

    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

  • 47431_88_88 Animalia > Felidae

    Panthera pardus


    Leopards have an extremely broad distribution across Africa and South and Southeast Asia; melanistic Leopards ("black panthers") sometimes occur in several parts of Africa, but are more common in Thailand, Malaysia, and Java (Indonesia).

    Sort value: 02.28

  • 54909_88_88 Animalia > Felidae

    Panthera onca


    Although the Jaguar was once native to the southwestern United States, breeding populations of these largest cats in the New World no longer exist in the region, and populations in Central and South America have become very small; only in parts of the Amazon rain forest and the Pantanal are Jaguars still relatively abundant.

    Sort value: 02.27

  • 24722_88_88 Animalia > Pantherinae Pocock, 1917

    Panthera leo


    Lions are the only truly social cats, with related females residing together in prides and related or unrelated males forming coalitions that compete for tenure of prides in fierce and often fatal battles.

    Sort value: 02.29

  • 41345_88_88 Animalia > Pandionidae

    Pandion haliaetus


    The Osprey is a fish-eating hawk found along coastlines and around marshes, lakes, and rivers almost worldwide.

    Sort value: 07.01

  • 25939_88_88 Animalia > Palaemonidae

    Palaemonetes paludosus

    Eastern Glass Shrimp

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

    Sort value: 999

  • 70782_88_88 Biota > Paguridae Latreille, 1802


    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

  • 48906_88_88 Animalia > Procellariidae

    Pagodroma nivea

    Snow Petrel

    The Snow Petrel breeds only on the Antarctic continent and surrounding islands.

    Sort value: 04.22

  • 87419_88_88 Animalia > Libellulidae

    Pachydiplax longipennis

    Blue Dasher

    The Blue Dasher is one of the best known North American representatives of the dragonfly family Libellulidae (the skimmers) and occurs from southern Canada south through Mexico and Belize, the Bahamas, and Cuba.

    Sort value: 999

  • 13555_88_88 Animalia > Colubridae


    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

  • 99918_88_88 Biota > Gobiidae



    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

  • 35578_88_88 Animalia > Caprinae Gray, 1821

    Ovis aries

    Domestic Sheep

    Although the domestication history of sheep remains somewhat murky, domestic sheep have been bred into many hundreds of varieties and continue to play important roles in human cultures around much of the world.

    Sort value: 10.12

  • 70753_88_88 Animalia > Bovidae

    Ovibos moschatus


    Muskoxen are well adapted for life in the Arctic, with short, stocky bodies and a thick coat of very long hair, enhanced in the winter by woolly underhairs for added insulation. They use their horns in a group defense strategy against their principle predators, wolves and brown bears: they back into a circle or cluster, with head and horns facing outward, as individual animals dart out to charge at the intruder.

    Sort value: 06.18

  • 37835_88_88 Animalia > Arthropoda



    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 Animalia > Pholoidae

    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 Animalia > Adrianichthyidae

    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