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National Museum of Natural History Species of the Day Collection

Last updated 6 days 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.

  • 88530_88_88

    Lepus americanus

    Snowshoe Hare

    Across most of their range in northern North America, the coats of Snowshoe Hares change color with the seasons, with the brown summer coat transitioning to a white winter coat, providing camouflage in each season.

    Sort value: 04.18

  • 24300_88_88

    Lemur catta

    Ring-tailed Lemur

    The Ring-tailed Lemur, the most terrestrial of Madagascar's primates, has a distinctive long and bushy black-and-white-ringed tail.

    Sort value: 07.17

  • 26673_88_88 Animalia > Parulidae

    Leiothlypis ruficapilla

    Nashville Warbler

    The lovely little Nashville Warbler breeds in northern North America and winters in Mexico and Central America, but may be found during migration across much of the United States--including Nashville, Tennessee, the source of the specimen on which the original description of the species was based.

    Sort value: 02.23

  • 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 Agamidae

    Leiolepis ngovantrii

    Ngo Van Tri's Lady Butterfly Lizard

    This asexually reproducing lizard was described from Vietnam in 2010.

    Sort value: 999

  • 82617_88_88

    Laurus nobilis

    Bay Laurel

    Bay Laurel, a native of the Mediterranean region, is (along with California Bay Laurel and some other species) one of the sources of bay leaves used in cooking and figured prominently in ancient Greek, Roman, and biblical culture.

    Sort value: 03.08

  • 27497_88_88

    Latimeria chalumnae


    The Coelacanth belongs to a group of fishes that is closely related to tetrapods and lungfishes; this lineage was well known from the fossil record, but until a live Coelacanth was collected in 1938, it was believed to have been extinct for 70 million years.

    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

  • 07138_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 van der Land and Nørrevang, 1975

    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

  • 45528_88_88

    Lama glama 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

  • 45528_88_88

    Lama glama


    The llama played a major role in the development of the Inca Empire, providing invaluable service as a beast of burden (apparently the only animal with this purpose domesticated by native peoples of the New World), as well as being used as a source of meat, materials for making clothes, and fuel (dried excrement).

    Sort value: 07.23

  • 31609_88_88

    Laguncularia racemosa

    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

  • 80249_88_88

    Lagenaria siceraria

    Bottle Gourd

    The Bottle Gourd was one of the first plants domesticated by humans, possibly more than 10,000 years ago. Although apparently native to Africa, the Bottle Gourd had reached Asia and the Americas by 9000 to 8000 years ago, possibly as a wild species whose fruits had floated across the sea.

    Sort value: 02.19

  • 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

  • 44058_88_88

    Lablab purpureus

    Hyacinth Bean

    Hyacinth Bean apparently originated in Africa but is now grown far more extensively in Asia and is planted widely as a forage crop in pastures in northern Australia.

    Sort value: 09.06

  • 85202_88_88


    These tiny organisms of uncertain affinity are often overlooked but may be very abundant and diverse in the deep sea.

    Sort value: 999

  • 03708_88_88

    Kobus leche

    Red Lechwe

    Red Lechwes inhabit seasonal floodplains and shallow swamps adjacent to open water in southern Africa, moving efficiently through flooded terrain using a bounding gait in which all four feet touch the ground and leave the ground together; on hard ground, they are slow and clumsy.

    Sort value: 12.19

  • 60588_88_88

    Kiwa hirsuta

    Yeti Crab

    This recently discovered crab, from a deep sea hydrothermal vent site, is so unusual it has been placed in its own family, the Kiwaidae.

    Sort value: 999

  • 12959_88_88

    Junonia coenia

    Common Buckeye

    The striking Common Buckeye butterfly is a familiar sight across much of North America, including Mexico.

    Sort value: 999

  • 91201_88_88

    Jalmenus evagoras

    Pale Imperial Blue

    Imperial Blue Butterfly caterpillars produce sweet secretions that attract ants which then protect them from a variety of predators.

    Sort value: 999

  • 41584_88_88



    Sailfishes are among the fastest fish in the world.

    Sort value: 06.03

  • 96726_88_88

    Ipomoea batatas

    Sweet Potato

    The large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots of the Sweet Potato are particularly important as a food crop in Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Latin America.

    Sort value: 999

  • 01380_88_88

    Impatiens pallida

    Pale Touch-me-not

    There are two species of jewelweed in eastern North America. Impatiens pallida is usually found in shadier sites than the more common I. capensis.

    Sort value: 999

  • 83363_88_88

    Ilex aquifolium

    Common Holly

    Boughs of holly have been traditional Christmas decorations for centuries.

    Sort value: 999

  • 33898_88_88

    Icteria virens

    Yellow-breasted Chat

    Although the Yellow-breasted Chat was long considered a super-sized and otherwise atypical member of the wood-warbler family (Parulidae), molecular genetic studies have indicated that this species does not actually fall within the core wood-warbler group.

    Sort value: 01.21

  • 57045_88_88

    Ictalurus punctatus

    Channel Catfish

    The Channel Catfish is native to eastern North America, but it has been widely introduced across North America and in numerous other countries around the world.

    Sort value: 999

  • 61018_88_88

    Hypsibius dujardini

    This tardigrade, or “water bear”, is being focused on by some researchers as a model for studying the evolution of developmental mechanisms.

    Sort value: 999

  • 36959_88_88

    Hyperolius sankuruensis

    Omaniundu Reed Frog

    This frog was found in 2010 for the first time since it was discovered in 1979.

    Sort value: 999

  • 32851_88_88

    Hymenaster pellucidus

    Hymenaster pellucidus is a deep-sea sea star typically found in the Northwest Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

    Sort value: 999

  • 03046_88_88


    Holarctic Treefrogs

    The treefrog genus Hyla includes around three dozen species, with representatives found from Canada to South America, as well as in Europe, Asia, and North Africa.

    Sort value: 02.14

  • 05978_88_88

    Hydrurga leptonyx

    Leopard Seal

    The Leopard Seal is the only pinniped (the group including walruses, sea lions, and seals) in which warm-blooded animals--in this case other seals and pengins--make up a large portion of the diet.

    Sort value: 09.05

  • 90049_88_88


    Water Mites

    The water mites include thousands of species of aquatic mites, often brightly colored, that typically feed on the haemolymph (“blood”) of insects with aquatic life stages; these mites may disperse great distances attached to winged adult insect hosts.

    Sort value: 999

  • 87968_88_88

    Hyalophora cecropia

    Cecropia Moth

    The Cecropia Moth, in the giant silkmoth family (Saturniidae), is the largest moth in Norh America.

    Sort value: 999

  • 53575_88_88

    Histioteuthis bonnellii

    Bonnelli's Jewel Squid

    As in other members of its family (Histioteuthidae), the left eye of this squid is much larger than the right eye and is semitubular rather than hemispherical.

    Sort value: 999

  • 27601_88_88

    Histiophryne psychedelica

    Psychedelic Frogfish

    The Psychedelic Frog Fish was deemed the “World's Weirdest Fish” by Time Magazine.

    Sort value: 999

  • 37787_88_88 Animalia > Hippopotamidae

    Hippopotamus amphibius


    The Common Hippopotamus, which is found in sub-Saharan Africa, is among the most dangerous animals (for humans) in Africa.

    Sort value: 07.07

  • 77463_88_88



    Seahorses spend much of their time stationary, using their tails to attach themselves to corals, grasses, or other objects; rather than swimming about in search of prey, they are ambush predators, feeding on small crustaceans and other invertebrates that stray too close.

    Sort value: 06.19

  • 88048_88_88

    Hexaprotodon liberiensis

    Pygmy Hippopotamus

    The Pygmy Hippopotamus, found only in West Africa, shares the barrel-shaped body form of the closely related Common Hippopotamus, but is considerably smaller, among other differences.

    Sort value: 07.08

  • 54763_88_88

    Herpetotheres cachinnans

    Laughing Falcon

    The Laughing Falcon is a raptor of the New World tropics that feeds mainly on snakes and lizards.

    Sort value: 04.06

  • 33590_88_88

    Heloderma suspectum

    Gila Monster

    The beautiful Gila Monster is one of just two venomous lizard species in North America.

    Sort value: 999

  • 21489_88_88

    Helleborus foetidus

    Stinking Hellebore

    Bearsfoot (or Stinking Hellebore) is sometimes grown in gardens for its evergreen foliage and large numbers of green bell-shaped flowers in winter.

    Sort value: 999

  • 40786_88_88

    Helianthus annuus

    Common Sunflower

    This sunflower was first domesticated and cultivated thousands of years ago by Native Americans.

    Sort value: 999

  • 82130_88_88

    Hathrometra prolixa

    This Arctic relative of sea stars and sea urchins typically lives on soft mud or clay sea bottoms.

    Sort value: 999

  • 32410_88_88

    Haminoea japonica

    Japanese Bubble Snail

    Haminoea japonica are unusual in that they produce some offspring that are swimming, non-feeding veliger larvae and others that metamorphose into crawling juveniles prior to hatching.

    Sort value: 999

  • 48503_88_88

    Halyomorpha halys

    Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

    The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is native to South Korea, Japan, and eastern China, but was collected in Pennsylvania (U.S.A.) in 1996 and has since spread rapidly and become extremely abundant throughout the mid-Atlantic states, with additional isolated populations reported from Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, and California.

    Sort value: 999

  • 23656_88_88

    Haliotis sorenseni

    White Abalone

    In 2001, this species became the first marine invertebrate in United States waters to receive federal protection as an endangered species.

    Sort value: 999

  • 94486_88_88

    Halieutichthys aculeatus

    Pancake Batfish

    Research published in 2010 revealed that what had previously been treated as a single species, the Pancake Batfish, is actually a complex of several similar species.

    Sort value: 999

  • 88268_88_88

    Haliaeetus leucocephalus

    Bald Eagle

    Today is Independence Day in the United States and the Bald Eagle is the U.S. national emblem and national bird.

    Sort value: 999