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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.

  • 05658_88_88 Animalia > Alcedinidae

    Halcyon leucocephala

    Gray-headed Kingfisher

    Like many kingfisher species, the Grey-headed Kingfisher feeds not on fish but rather on terrestrial invertebrates and small vertebrates.

    Sort value: 07.28

  • 76607_88_88 Plantae > Malvaceae



    The genus Gossypium includes includes species that originated in both the Old World and New World tropical and warm-temperate regions. This is a textile crop of ancient origin, which was domesticated independently in separate parts of the world.

    Sort value: 10.18

  • 01206_88_88 Animalia > Homininae Gray, 1825

    Gorilla beringei

    Eastern Gorilla

    Eastern Gorillas, which are found in Rwanda, Uganda, and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, live in stable, cohesive family groups, led by a dominant silverback male.

    Sort value: 06.21

  • 99470_88_88 Animalia > Perciformes


    True Gobies

    The Gobiidae is among the most species-rich fish families.

    Sort value: 06.20

  • 89539_88_88 Animalia


    Jaw Worm

    Gnathostomulids are translucent microscopic, interstitial (i.e., living between sediment particles) marine worms, with a muscular pharynx armed with distinctive forceps-like jaws in nearly all species.

    Sort value: 08.27

  • 91896_88_88 Plantae > Fabaceae

    Glycyrrhiza glabra

    Common Liquorice

    Licorice is a legume native to southwestern Asia and the Mediterranean region and has been cultivated in Europe since at least the 16th century; Spain and Italy have long been major producers of Licorice.

    Sort value: 08.23

  • 70375_88_88 Plantae > Fabaceae

    Glycine max


    This legume was domesticated more than 3,000 years ago for its edible seeds and young pods and is now the world's most important legume crop, ranks sixth among all cultivated crops in terms of total harvest, and is the most widely produced oilseed.

    Sort value: 10.29

  • 11774_88_88 Animalia > Sciuridae

    Glaucomys volans

    Southern Flying Squirrel

    These largely nocturnal squirrels can leap off a tree and glide 50 meters to another tree at a rate of nearly two meters per second, scurrying to the other side of the trunk immediately upon landing.

    Sort value: 999

  • 84330_88_88 Animalia > Giraffidae

    Giraffa camelopardalis


    The long-necked, long-legged Giraffe is the world's tallest mammal, but its neck is made up of the same number of neck bones (cervical vertebrae) as most mammals, including humans (however, these bones are much larger and linked by ball and socket joints for improved flexibility); dueling male Giraffes use their necks as powerful weapons.

    Sort value: 07.09

  • 52498_88_88 Plantae > Ginkgoaceae

    Ginkgo biloba


    Apparently extinct in the wild, the ginkgo has been cultivated in China for at least a thousand years; it was brought to the West in the late 1600s and is now a very popular street tree and ornamental.

    Sort value: 999

  • 44321_88_88 Animalia > Parulidae

    Geothlypis trichas

    Common Yellowthroat

    The Common Yellowthroat is a common breeding bird across most of North America, from Canada south through Mexico, with a winter range extending from the southern United States to northern South America.

    Sort value: 01.22

  • 95580_88_88 Animalia > Parulidae

    Oporornis philadelphia (A. Wilson, 1810)

    Mourning Ground Warbler

    The Mourning Warbler derives its common name from the dark hood and throat that are especially characteristic of males.

    Sort value: 04.12

  • 69131_88_88 Animalia > Parulidae

    Oporornis formosus (A. Wilson, 1811)

    Kentucky Warbler

    The Kentucky Warbler is a common breeder in rich, moist woodlands across much of the eastern United States, where it spend much of its time in thickets foraging in the leaf litter; it winters from central Mexico south to northern South America.

    Sort value: 01.23

  • 58607_88_88 Animalia > Cuculidae

    Geococcyx californianus

    Chapparal Cock

    The Greater Roadrunner is a large, ground-dwelling member of the cuckoo family found in Mexico and the southwestern and southcentral United States

    Sort value: 06.30

  • 55139_88_88 Animalia > Gaviidae

    Gavia immer

    Great Northern Loon

    Today is Canada Day and the Common Loon – an evocative symbol of the Great North Woods of northern North America, is Canada's national bird.

    Sort value: 999

  • 97290_88_88 Animalia > Balitoridae


    Torrent Loaches

    Torrent Loaches are found exclusively on the island of Borneo; they are obligate bottom-dwellers and exhibit extreme morphological adaptations for life in torrential waters.

    Sort value: 999

  • 95281_88_88 Animalia > Sylviidae


    Laughing Thrushes

    The Laughing Thrushes, a diverse group of tropical Asian birds in the "Old World babblers" family, are now believed to include a range of species that are not actually closely related to one another, so further research is likely to result in the movement of many Garrulax species into other genera.

    Sort value: 04.07

  • 51973_88_88 Plantae > Clusiaceae

    Garcinia mangostana


    The Mangosteen fruit has been described as the "prince of fruits", the most delicious of all tropical fruits.

    Sort value: 11.15

  • 98819_88_88 Animalia > Cynocephalidae

    Galeopterus variegatus


    Flying lemurs have the most extensive gliding membrane of any mammal, allowing them to glide over 100 meters with relatively little loss in elevation.

    Sort value: 999

  • 23509_88_88 Plantae > Amaryllidaceae



    Many snowdrops flower in late winter or early spring and are celebrated as a sign of the arrival (or imminent arrival) of spring.

    Sort value: 04.20

  • 30524_88_88 Animalia > Chamaeleonidae

    Furcifer pardalis

    Panther Chameleon

    Panther Chameleons from different regions of Madagascar have distinctive color patterns.

    Sort value: 999

  • 42876_88_88 Animalia > Funiculinidae

    Funiculina quadrangularis

    Tall Sea Pen

    The Tall Seapen is found in often dense colonies on muddy sea bottoms.

    Sort value: 999

  • 80891_88_88 Animalia > Fregatidae

    Fregata minor

    Great Frigatebird

    Male Great Frigatebirds display in tight groups on a shrub or tree, inflating their large, red gular sacs as potential mates soar above them.

    Sort value: 999

  • 06212_88_88 Bacteria > Frankiaceae


    Frankia bacteria fix nitrogen from the air, living in root nodules of hosts (from a range of plant families) with which they have evolved symbiotic relationships; they have not been studied as extensively as the nitrogen-fixing bacteria associated with many plants in the family Fabaceae (legumes).

    Sort value: 10.30

  • 12429_88_88 Plantae > Rosaceae



    Among the dozen or so strawberry species is the widely grown Garden Strawberry, which originated (in Europe) as a hybrid between two strawberry species from the west coasts of North and South America.

    Sort value: 10.14

  • 69691_88_88 Animalia > Chaetodontidae

    Forcipiger longirostris

    Longnose Butterflyfish

    The Longnose Butterflyfish, the longest-jawed of the butterflyfishes, is a specialized predator of mobile decapod shrimps, particularly the elusive caridians that live within coral reefs.

    Sort value: 999

  • 47143_88_88 Animalia > Falconidae

    Falco peregrinus

    Peregrine Falcon

    The decline and recovery of the Peregrine Falcon have made it an icon of the conservation movement in North America.

    Sort value: 999

  • 43366_88_88 Animalia > Beloniformes



    The flying fishes are a family of around 5 dozen species that are widespread and abundant in the tropical and subtropical Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans; they are well known for their enlarged pectoral fins ("wings") that allow them to make extraordinary gliding leaps out of the water.

    Sort value: 12.10

  • 69202_88_88 Animalia > Eurypharyngidae

    Eurypharynx pelecanoides

    Umbrellamouth Gulper

    This is a species of deep-sea marine eel with an extraordinarily large expanding mouth, extremely long jaws containing numerous small teeth, a large distensible abdomen, and a long, tapering compressed tail.

    Sort value: 06.28

  • 66139_88_88 Animalia > Pegasidae

    Eurypegasus draconis

    Short Dragonfish

    A curious behavior seen in the Short Dragonfish or Common Seamouth is shedding its skin in one piece, probably every one to five days.

    Sort value: 999

  • 83416_88_88 Animalia > Euphausiidae

    Euphausia superba


    This krill species plays a key role in Antarctic food webs.

    Sort value: 999

  • 68068_88_88 Animalia > Lophotidae

    Eumecichthys fiski

    Unicorn Crestfish

    The common name of this rare but widespread deep-sea fish, Unicorn Crestfish, comes from the distinctive projecting supraoccipital, a bone on the dorsal (upper) side of the skull.

    Sort value: 07.22

  • 06638_88_88 Animalia > Gerreidae

    Eugerres plumieri

    Striped Mojarra

    Striped Mojarras are found from South Carolina (U.S.A.) and the entire Gulf of Mexico to Brazil, but are apparently absent from the Bahamas and some of the smaller islands of the West Indies; in many areas, the Striped Mojarra is of significant commercial and recreational value, although some populations have been declining due to overfishing.

    Sort value: 08.03

  • 09002_88_88 Plantae > Rosaceae

    Photinia japonica


    The Loquat is one of relatively few subtropical members of the Rosaceae (a plant family which includes many very familiar temperate climate species such as apples, cherries, pears, peaches, plums, roses, and hawthorns).

    Sort value: 10.16

  • 11443_88_88 Plantae > Apiaceae

    Erigenia bulbosa

    Harbinger of Spring

    Harbinger-of-spring, a member of the carrot family, is among the first flowers to appear in spring in the mid-latitude United States.

    Sort value: 04.09

  • 00356_88_88 Plantae > Poaceae

    Eragrostis tef


    The grain from this grass, a small-seeded millet, is used to make a variety of food products, including injera, the spongy fermented flatbread that serves as the staple food for most Ethiopians.

    Sort value: 12.17

  • 26650_88_88 Animalia > Cyprinidae

    Epalzeorhynchos bicolor

    Redtail Sharkminnow

    The Redtail Sharkminnow is common in the aquarium trade, but critically endangered in the wild.

    Sort value: 07.14

  • 45240_88_88 Animalia > Pelagothuridae


    This deep-sea sea cucumber feeds on bottom sediment, but is able to swim up into the water column, hundreds of meters above the bottom, by undulating the cape-like fringe around the rear of the body.

    Sort value: 999

  • 42383_88_88 Animalia > Muraenidae

    Enchelynassa canina

    Viper Moray

    Moray eels are "sit-and-wait” predators and are often seen with just their head sticking out of a rock crevice, waiting for a fish to swim by; when the prey is close enough, the eel quickly attacks it, then retreats back into the rock or coral.

    Sort value: 999

  • 76112_88_88 Plantae > Zingiberaceae

    Elettaria cardamomum


    The cultivation of True (or Small) Cardamom as an understory crop using current growing practices radically changes the forest ecosystem in ways that persist for many years even after Cardamom cultivation is abandoned.

    Sort value: 08.31

  • 94505_88_88 Plantae > Cyperaceae

    Eleocharis dulcis

    Chinese Water Chestnut

    The Chinese Water Chestnut is actually a sedge (and not closely related to the similarly named Water Chestnut, Trapa natans) with an edible tuber that is widely used in China and Southeast Asia.

    Sort value: 02.09

  • 22451_88_88 Animalia > Gymnotidae

    Electrophorus electricus

    Electric Eel

    Electric Eels are famous for their ability to emit powerful electrical discharges, which are used both in predation and defense, of more than 500 volts (weaker electric fields are generated to gather information about the fish's surroundings).

    Sort value: 11.27

  • 11049_88_88 Animalia > Columbidae

    Ectopistes migratorius

    Wild Pigeon

    Well into the 19th century, the Passenger Pigeon occurred in the eastern United States in staggering numbers, but it declined rapidly in the last few decades of the 19th century and by the dawn of the 20th century it was virtually extinct.

    Sort value: 01.05

  • 00118_88_88 Animalia > Formicidae

    Eciton burchellii

    Burchell's Army Ant

    Swarms of these army ants are often attended by birds that pick off insects and other small invertebrates racing to escape from the ant hordes.

    Sort value: 999

  • 77543_88_88 Plantae > Malvaceae



    Durian fruits, like the flowers, have a strong odor, but the flesh has a buttery, custard-like texture and a sweet flavor that is reminiscent of bananas; people tend to either like the flavor or be repulsed by it.

    Sort value: 02.18

  • 05397_88_88 Animalia > Columbidae

    Ducula galeata

    Marquesan Imperial Pigeon

    Among the rarest of the world's birds, the Marquesan Imperial-Pigeon is found only on the island of Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas (French Polynesia) and on nearby Ua Huka (the latter population is the result of an apparently successful translocation effort).

    Sort value: 999

  • 57674_88_88 Animalia > Picidae

    Dryocopus pileatus

    Pileated Woodpecker

    With the exception of the almost surely extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker, the Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in North America.

    Sort value: 01.03

  • 40111_88_88 Animalia > Drosophilidae

    Drosophila melanogaster

    Common Fruit Fly

    This species, which has a nearly global distribution, has been a favorite organism for biological research for around a century, initially in the field of genetics but subsequently for the investigation of fundamental problems in biology from the fields of ecology to neurobiology.

    Sort value: 09.18

  • 14653_88_88 Animalia > Dreissenidae

    Dreissena polymorpha

    Zebra Mussel

    These freshwater mussels are native to eastern Europe and western Asia, but have invaded North America and regions of Europe outside their natural range, causing alarming ecological and economic harm.

    Sort value: 999

  • 25558_88_88 Animalia > Vespidae

    Dolichovespula maculata

    Bald-faced Hornet

    The large “paper” nests of the Bald-faced Hornet are often constructed in trees and are a familiar sight, especially in autumn after leaves have dropped, across much of North America.

    Sort value: 999