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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.

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    The genus Arabidopsis includes a small number of generally unassuming, sometimes weedy, species in the mustard family (Brassicaceae)--but among them is Arabidopsis thaliana, which has become a central model organism for plant biologists much as the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster and its relatives have long been for biologists studying fundamental questions in animals.

    Sort value: 09.15

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    Apocephalus borealis

    Apocephalus borealis is a species of North American phorid fly that parasitizes bumblebees, honey bees and wasps; this species has been suggested as a possible vector promoting the spread of the pathogens responsible for colony collapse disorder in Honeybees.

    Sort value: 08.19

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    Anomia simplex d'Orbigny, 1853

    Common Jingle

    The Common Jingle Shell is among the most familiar shells along the beaches of the western Atlantic from Cape Cod south to at least the Caribbean.

    Sort value: 12.08

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    Anolis roosevelti

    Culebra Giant Anoles

    This lizard species is named after Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., former governor of Puerto Rico (1929-1932) and son of President Theodore Roosevelt.

    Sort value: 999

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    Segmented Worms

    The annelids (segmented worms) include a tremendous diversity of marine forms, as well as the more familiar leeches and earthworms, among others.

    Sort value: 999

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    Ancylostoma caninum

    Dog Hookworm

    The life cycle of the Dog Hookworm in dogs is very similar to that of human hookworms in humans (humans can also be infected by Dog Hookworms, but humans are a dead-end host for this parasite).

    Sort value: 06.16

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    Tailless Whip Scorpions

    The long slender "whips" of a tailless whip scorpion are actually the highly modified first pair of legs, which function as antenna-like tactile and chemoreceptors.

    Sort value: 999

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    Amblyomma americanum

    Lone Star Tick

    The Lone Star Tick has been rapidly expanding its range in recent decades, possibly as a result of increasing populations of White-tailed Deer (an important host) across the United States.

    Sort value: 05.03

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    Alytes obstetricans

    Common Midwife Toad

    Midwife Toads are well known for their unusual parental care: males attach the egg masses to their bodies and carry them until the eggs hatch, at which point the tadpoles are released into bodies of water.

    Sort value: 10.20

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    Alpheus christofferseni

    Christoffersen's Snapping Shrimp

    Like some other snapping shrimp, Alpheus christofferseni occurs in association with echiuran innkeeper worms.

    Sort value: 999

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    Alaria fistulosa

    Dragon Kelp

    This fast growing annual alga of the northern Pacific grows on rock from the low intertidal to the subtidal and forms offshore kelp beds in cold, exposed or partially exposed habitats.

    Sort value: 999

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    Agrilus planipennis

    Emerald Ash Borer

    The Emerald Ash Borer is native to eastern Asia, but was discovered in Michigan (USA) in 2002 and has since been found in a number of other areas in eastern North America, where it has caused devastating damage to ash trees.

    Sort value: 999

  • 72874_88_88

    Agapornis fischeri

    Fischer's Lovebird

    Like other lovebirds, captive Fischer's Lovebirds can often be seen sitting close together and gently preening each other. Native to northern Tanzania, these lovebirds have long been extremely popular cagebirds and at least until recently the live bird trade has threatened wild populations.

    Sort value: 999

  • 90987_88_88

    Afrixalus uluguruensis

    Uluguru Banana Frog

    This small frog is common where it occurs in the Uluguru, Udzungwa, and Mahenge Mountains of Tanzania, but populations are vulnerable because its geographic distribution is limited and its habitat is severely fragmented.

    Sort value: 999

  • 92563_88_88

    Aethopyga nipalensis

    Green-tailed Sunbird

    Like many sunbirds, the Green-tailed Sunbird exhibits striking sexual dimorphism, with brightly colored males and much less conspicuously colored females.

    Sort value: 999

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    Aethina tumida

    Small Hive Beetle

    Native to sub-Saharan Africa, where it is a minor pest of honeybees, the Small Hive Beetle has over the past decade spread throughout much of the United States and Australia, causing far more damage than it does in its native range.

    Sort value: 08.21

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    Cave Swiftlets

    The small cup-shaped nests of certain Aerodramus cave swiftlets are composed largely or entirely of hardened swiftlet saliva and are coveted for use in authentic bird's nest soup, a delicacy in parts of Asia.

    Sort value: 999

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    Crystal Jellies

    Aequorea jellyfish were the original source of green fluorescent protein (GFP), a molecule that has become extremely important as a marker protein in molecular biology research; three researchers shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work with GFP.

    Sort value: 999

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    Aedes aegypti

    Yellow Fever Mosquito

    This mosquito is a vector for the dengue fever, Chikungunya, and yellow fever viruses, as well as other diseases.

    Sort value: 999

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    Acropora cervicornis

    Staghorn Coral

    Staghorn corals are familiar coral in warm, shallow waters of the western Atlantic.

    Sort value: 999

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    Acipenser oxyrinchus

    Atlantic and Gulf Sturgeons

    Atlantic and Gulf Sturgeons are found mainly along the Atlantic coast and in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, lives primarily in shallow waters of the continental shelf, entering large rivers to spawn. They are long-lived and anadromous, moving up coastal rivers to breed and migrating to marine habitats to forage and overwinter.

    Sort value: 999

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    Acherontia atropos

    Death's-head Hawkmoth

    The Death's-head Hawkmoth, named for the pattern resembling a human skull on the upper surface of the the thorax, often raid the hives of honeybees as adults to feed on honey.

    Sort value: 03.28

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    Acer saccharum

    Sugar Maple

    Sugar maple is a major forest tree in eastern North America, an important ornamental shade tree, and the primary source of maple syrup.

    Sort value: 999

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    Acer palmatum

    Japanese Maple

    Hundreds of different cultivars of this East Asian maple are grown around the world for their ornamental value.

    Sort value: 06.14

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    Spiny-headed Worms

    The roughly 1100 species of described acanthocephalans are obligate intestinal parasites of vertebrates, especially fishes.

    Sort value: 999

  • 93298_88_88

    Acacia pycnantha

    Golden Wattle

    Golden Wattle is Australia's official floral emblem and is celebrated each year on September 1, known as National Wattle Day.

    Sort value: 999

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    Abies fraseri

    Fraser Fir

    The Fraser Fir is grown and harvested on a large scale in the southern Appalachians (U.S.A.) for use as Christmas trees in North America (in Europe, the Causcasian Fir, Abies nordmanniana plays a similarly dominant role as a Christmas tree). Natural stands of Fraser Fir have been severely damaged by an insect pest known as the wooly adelgid.

    Sort value: 999

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    Melopsittacus undulatus


    Budgies are common pets and people may be interested in their natural history.

    Sort value: 999

  • 38481_88_88

    Homo sapiens


    In recognition of the recently opened David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins at NMNH.

    Sort value: 999

  • 81433_88_88

    Acropora palmata

    Elkhorn Coral

    Elkhorn Coral populations have declined dramatically since the 1980s and the species is currently listed as Threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

    Sort value: 999

  • 79368_88_88

    Ampelisca mississippiana

    Gulf of Mexico Amphipod

    This recently discovered crustacean may be threatened by the massive 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Sort value: 999

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    Architeuthis dux

    Oceanic Squid

    The mysterious Giant Squid, featured in the NMNH Sant Ocean Hall, is the second largest invertebrate in the world.

    Sort value: 999

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    Rapana venosa

    Veined Whelk

    This large predatory marine snail, featured in the NMNH Sant Ocean Hall, has recently become established in a number of areas outside its native range.

    Sort value: 999

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    This species is characteristic of ephemeral rainwater pools on bare rock and in artificial basins (e.g., ornamental ponds).

    Sort value: 999

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    Thysanoessa spinifera


    Thysanoessa spinifera is a common and widespread species of krill (krill are small shrimp-like crustaceans occurring in often extremely dense concentrations in all the world's oceans). A blue whale may consume up to two tons of krill each day.

    Sort value: 999

  • 80207_88_88

    Drymarchon couperi

    Eastern Indigo Snake

    The Eastern Indigo Snake is the largest North American snake. It is a threatened species found mainly in SE Georgia and peninsular Florida.

    Sort value: 999

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    Water Bears

    The Tardigrada are microscopic animals that look superficially like miniature eight-legged teddy bears. They live in habitats with at least intermittent moisture and can form resistant resting stages enabling them to endure extreme environmental conditions, including intense heat and cold, radiation, desiccation, and even the vacuum of space.

    Sort value: 999

  • 89989_88_88

    Spirochaeta americana

    Mono Lake Spirochaete

    This obligately anaerobic bacterium can be found in the bleach-like highly alkaline, salty, deep waters of California's Mono Lake.

    Sort value: 999

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    Blanket Octopus

    Blanket octopuses are immune to the poisonous Portuguese man o' war, whose tentacles the male and immature females rip off and use for defensive purposes. Also, unlike many other octopuses, the blanket octopus does not use ink to intimidate potential predators. When threatened, the female unfurls her large net-like membranes that spread out and billow in the water, greatly increasing her apparent size.

    Sort value: 999

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    Lipotes vexillifer


    This species probably went extinct within the last few years due to development pressure in the Yangtze.

    Sort value: 999

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    Cnipodectes superrufus

    Rufous Twistwing

    First specimen of this flycatcher was collected by Dr. Grace Servat as a student in a NMNH tropical biology field course in Peru.

    Sort value: 999

  • 66949_88_88


    This genus of Andean shrubs in the aster family was recently named by Smithsonian botanists Vicki Funk and Harold Robinson in honor of Cristián Samper, Director of the National Museum of Natural History (USA).

    Sort value: 999

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    Trichoplax adhaerens


    This species is among the simplest animals — with just a few cell types and lacking a fixed body shape, symmetry, gut, or any organs — and represents a sister group to the bulk of extant animals.

    Sort value: 999

  • 37913_88_88

    Macrocheira kaempferi

    Japanese Spider Crab

    This crab has a legspan that can exceed 3 meters.

    Sort value: 999

  • 38103_88_88

    Eristalis gatesi

    Bill Gates' Flower Fly

    This Costa Rican flower fly was named by Smithsonian entomologist Chris Thompson in honor of Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corporation.

    Sort value: 999

  • 09289_88_88

    Nerita plicata

    Plicate Nerite

    This is the most broadly distributed species in the genus Nerita (which is itself one of the most common groups of marine intertidal snails in the tropics), with a remarkable geographic range stretching from the shores of northeastern South Africa to the Hawaiian Islands.

    Sort value: 999

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    Springtails are extremely abundant and extraordinarily widespread, occurring even in Antarctica.

    Sort value: 999

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    Cedrus libani A. Rich.

    Lebanon Cedar

    The Lebanon Cedar is a widely planted ornamental.

    Sort value: 999

  • 86255_88_88

    Icterus chrysater

    Yellow-backed Oriole

    Male and female Yellow-backed Orioles are similar in appearance and both sexes sing, as is typical for tropical monomorphic oriole species.

    Sort value: 999

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    Trimma okinawae

    Yellow-speckled Cave-goby

    This species is one of the few fish species known in which individuals can change sex in either direction.

    Sort value: 999