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National Museum of Natural History Species of the Day Collection

Last updated about 1 year 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.

  • 99909_88_88 Animalia > Suidae

    Sus scrofa

    Wild Boar

    The Wild Boar has one of the largest geographic ranges of any mammal and the Earth's estimated 2 billion domestic pigs trace their ancestry mainly to this species and the Sulawesi Warty Pig.

    Sort value: 11.22

  • 27866_88_88 Animalia > Strigidae

    Surnia ulula

    Northern Hawk-owl

    This unusual-looking owl, whose common name is based on its elongated falcon-like appearance, breeds in open and semi-open habitats in northern North America and Eurasia.

    Sort value: 999

  • 40815_88_88 Animalia > Styelidae

    Styela clava

    Asian Clubbed Tunicate

    This sea squirt has become an invasive pest in several regions of the world.

    Sort value: 999

  • 83375_88_88 Animalia > Psittacidae

    Strigops habroptila


    The highly endangered Kakapo of New Zealand is unusual in many ways, not least of which are that it is a nocturnal and flightless parrot.

    Sort value: 999

  • 32316_88_88 cellular organisms > Turdidae

    Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus

    Olive-backed Forest Robin

    The Olive-backed Forest Robin was discovered several years ago in west central Africa by Smithsonian ornithologist Brian Schmidt and colleagues.

    Sort value: 999

  • 73805_88_88 Plantae > Asteraceae

    Stevia rebaudiana


    In recent years, this plant has attracted great interest as the source of glycoside compounds several hundred times sweeter than sucrose.

    Sort value: 07.26

  • 54499_88_88 Animalia > Laridae

    Sterna paradisaea

    Arctic Tern

    The Arctic Tern makes the longest know annual migration of any organism.

    Sort value: 999

  • 45043_88_88 Animalia > Stegostomatidae

    Stegostoma fasciatum

    Zebra Shark

    Both the common and scientific names of this shark are derived from the appearance of the juveniles, which are dark brown with white zebra-like stripes, but adults are tan with brown leopard-like spots.

    Sort value: 999

  • 96014_88_88 Animalia > Mantidae

    Stagmomantis carolina

    Praying Mantis

    The Carolina Mantis is a medium-sized mantid native to North and Central America; like other mantids, this species is a generalist predator of arthropods, but it has also been reported to attack small frogs and lizards.

    Sort value: 08.02

  • 87920_88_88 Animalia > Serpulidae

    Spirobranchus giganteus

    Christmas Tree Worm

    These polychaete tubeworms live on coral reefs in tubes they construct that are covered by coral skeletons, with the opening of the tube on the surface of the living coral. They are widely distributed in the tropical Western Atlantic.

    Sort value: 999

  • 16922_88_88 Animalia > Columbidae

    Streptopelia senegalensis

    Laughing Dove

    The Laughing Dove has a wide distribution across sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and parts of western Australia (populations in Australia and possibly in the Middle East are the result of human introductions).

    Sort value: 04.05

  • 37748_88_88 Animalia > Sphyraenidae

    Sphyraena barracuda

    Great Barracuda

    Although these fish are definitely fierce predators worthy of respect, the reputation of the Great Barracuda as dangerous to humans is largely unearned.

    Sort value: 999

  • 05979_88_88 Animalia > Tetraodontidae

    Sphoeroides testudineus

    Checkered Puffer

    Like many other puffers, Checkered Puffers can be highly toxic as a result of tetrodotoxins and saxitoxins in their bodies, making them potentially quite dangerous to consume.

    Sort value: 05.30

  • 97868_88_88 Animalia > Sphenodontidae

    Sphenodon punctatus

    Northern Tuatara

    Found only in New Zealand, the closest relatives of the tuataras are the squamates (lizards and snakes).

    Sort value: 999

  • 97868_88_88 Animalia > Sphenodontidae



    The two species of tuataras, both of which are found only in New Zealand, are reptiles that are close relatives of lizards and snakes.

    Sort value: 02.16

  • 92077_88_88 Animalia > Crabronidae

    Sphecius speciosus

    Eastern Cicada Killer

    Female cicada killers capture cicadas, paralyze them with a sting, and bring them back to their burrows to serve as food for their developing larvae.

    Sort value: 999

  • 14320_88_88 Plantae > Sphagnaceae


    Peat Moss

    Sphagnum mosses are a dominant component of bogs and other wetland ecosystems; they tend to acidify their environment and thus to direct future succession, i.e., the trajectory of the ecological community.

    Sort value: 10.19

  • 44542_88_88 Animalia > Arachnida


    Sun Spiders

    Depending on the species, these typically desert-dwelling relatives of spiders may be out during the day; their active pursuit of shadows to keep cool likely explains the name "Solifugae", which is derived from Latin roots meaning "fleeing from the Sun".

    Sort value: 999

  • 64328_88_88 Animalia > Solenostomidae

    Solenostomus cyanopterus

    Robust Ghost Pipefish

    The ghost pipefishes (Family Solenostomidae) are skin-brooding fishes related to the true pipefishes and seahorses (Family Syngnathidae) (skin-brooding involves the attachment of developing eggs to the body surface of a parent).

    Sort value: 999

  • 49591_88_88 Animalia > Syngnathiformes


    Ghost Pipefishes

    The ghost pipefishes (family Solenostomidae) are skin-brooding fishes related to the true pipefishes and seahorses (family Syngnathidae) (skin-brooding involves the attachment of developing eggs to the body surface of a parent); they are found only in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, inhabiting shallow tropical waters associated with rocky crystalline reefs and vegetation.

    Sort value: 03.26

  • 59942_88_88 Plantae > Solanaceae

    Solanum tuberosum


    The potato, which originated in the Andes region of South America, has served as a staple food for many cultures throughout the world.

    Sort value: 999

  • 55822_88_88 Plantae > Solanaceae

    Solanum melongena


    The aubergine, or common eggplant, is believed to have been first domesticated in India or Southeast Asia, but is now an important food crop in many parts of the world, particularly in southern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

    Sort value: 999

  • 31525_88_88 Plantae > Solanaceae

    Solanum dulcamara


    Every part of this beautiful plant is poisonous.

    Sort value: 07.05

  • 10462_88_88 Animalia > Sittidae

    Sitta carolinensis

    White-breasted Nuthatch

    The White-breasted Nuthatch is a year-round resident over much of North America from southwestern Canada to the highlands of southern Mexico; it is typically found in deciduous and mixed forest, whereas the Red-breasted Nutchatch is more typically associated with conifer forests.

    Sort value: 01.13

  • 60844_88_88 Animalia > Sittidae

    Sitta canadensis

    Canada Nuthatch

    The Red-breasted Nuthatch breeds in coniferous forests across Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern and western United States; although it is often a year-round resident, when winter resources are scarce, large numbers may move south of their usual range.

    Sort value: 01.12

  • 94992_88_88 Animalia


    Peanut Worms

    Although the group Sipuncula has been recognized as a distinct phylum for half a century, in recent years molecular phylogenetic studies have provided strong evidence that sipunculans either fall within, or are very closely related to, the annelids (segmented worms).

    Sort value: 999

  • 88263_88_88 Animalia > Turdidae

    Sialia sialis

    Eastern Bluebird

    After many years of population declines, Eastern Bluebird populations have increased in recent decades at least in part due to large-scale efforts to provide them with appropriate nest boxes for breeding.

    Sort value: 01.31

  • 05670_88_88 Animalia > Turdidae

    Sialia mexicana

    Western Bluebird

    Western Bluebirds are found in the westernmost United States (and adjacent Canada) south through the highlands of Mexico.

    Sort value: 01.30

  • 46075_88_88 Animalia > Turdidae

    Sialia currucoides

    Arctic Bluebird

    Mountain Bluebirds are found in mostly open habitats, often at high elevations (especially during the breeding season), across much of western North America (in winter, they can be found south to northern and central Mexico).

    Sort value: 02.01

  • 11810_88_88 Animalia > Parulidae

    Dendroica striata

    Blackpoll Warbler

    Blackpoll Warblers are among the most numerous breeding birds in the forests of far northern North America and are abundant migrants in the spring in eastern North America (and in the northeastern United States and Canadian Maritime Provinces in the fall) as they travel between their northern breeding grounds and their winter range in northern South America.

    Sort value: 12.02

  • 57821_88_88 Animalia > Parulidae

    Dendroica nigrescens

    Black-throated Gray Warbler

    The Black-throated Gray Warbler breeds from British Columbia to New Mexico and winters in the southwestern United States and Mexico.

    Sort value: 12.05

  • 04349_88_88 Animalia > Parulidae

    Dendroica dominica

    Yellow-throated Warbler

    The Yellow-throated Warbler, which breeds in the eastern United States and winters along the Gulf Coast and in the Caribbean and Central America, often forages by creeping along tree branches.

    Sort value: 01.20

  • 30798_88_88 Animalia > Parulidae

    Dendroica angelae

    Elfin-woods Warbler

    The discovery of this small warbler in Puerto Rico in 1968 (formally described in 1972) was remarkable given that it was the first new bird species discovered in the Caribbean in four decades and the first new bird from Puerto Rico in the 20th century; it's narrow distribution, habitat, and similarity to the Black-and-white Warbler (a winter resident in Puerto Rico), probably all contributed to its evading detection for so long.

    Sort value: 12.04

  • 02247_88_88 Plantae > Pedaliaceae

    Sesamum indicum


    Sesame was one of the first oilseed plants to be used by humans; major producers include Burma, India, China, and a range of countries in Africa.

    Sort value: 12.18

  • 79248_88_88 Plantae > Arecaceae

    Serenoa repens

    Saw Palmetto

    Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens), the only species in its genus, is native only to the southeastern United States, where it is a major understory plant.

    Sort value: 10.03

  • 77496_88_88 Plantae > Cupressaceae

    Sequoia sempervirens (D. Don) Endl.

    Coast Redwood

    The Coast Redwood is among the world's tallest trees; it is native to the northern California coast and extreme southwestern Oregon, a region of moderate to heavy winter rain and summer fog.

    Sort value: 08.28

  • 74956_88_88 Animalia > Sepia (Sepia) Linnaeus, 1758

    Sepia apama


    The Australian Giant Cuttlefish, the largest cuttlefish in the world, is a master of camouflage, but males adopt rapidly changing bright colors and striking patterns when trying to attract the attention of females for mating.

    Sort value: 999

  • 11684_88_88 Chordata > Cercopithecidae

    Semnopithecus entellus

    Grey Langur

    The Hanuman Langur is the most widely distributed nonhuman primate in South Asia, although this may be an illusion given some evidence that this distribution may actually encompass more than one species.

    Sort value: 999

  • 07020_88_88 Animalia > Carangidae

    Selene vomer


    Lookdowns occur in shallow coastal waters over sand or mud in the western Atlantic from Maine to Uruguay, including Bermuda; in the northern and southern Gulf of Mexico; and in the Greater Antilles.

    Sort value: 06.27

  • 78698_88_88 Plantae > Cucurbitaceae

    Sechium edule


    Chayote is a member of the gourd family, but unlike the familiar melons, gourds, squashes, and pumpkins, the fruits of which contain many seeds, the Chayote fruit contains just a single seed.

    Sort value: 09.03

  • 00153_88_88 Plantae > Poaceae

    Secale cereale

    Cereal Rye

    Rye is an important cereal crop in the cooler parts of northern and central Europe and Russia, cultivated up to the Arctic Circle and to 4000 m above sea level.

    Sort value: 11.02

  • 48509_88_88 Animalia > Scutigeridae

    Scutigera coleoptrata

    House Centipede

    Although its appearance makes it an unwelcome guest in most homes, this centipede, which feeds on small insects and spiders, is generally harmless to humans.

    Sort value: 999

  • 17685_88_88 Animalia > Elpidiidae

    Scotoplanes globosa

    Sea Pig

    This odd-looking creature, which is featured in the NMNH Sant Ocean Hall, belongs to a group of “sea cucumbers” (relatives of sea stars) that can be extremely abundant in the deep sea.

    Sort value: 999

  • 09117_88_88 Animalia > Sciuridae

    Sciurus aureogaster

    Mexican Red-bellied Squirrel

    This squirrel occurs naturally in a wide range of habitats in Mexico and Central America, but also has a long established introduced population in the Florida Keys (USA).

    Sort value: 999

  • 23048_88_88 Animalia > Scincidae

    Scincella lateralis

    Brown Bark Skink

    The Ground Skink is a small, quick lizard of the southeastern United States; it is likely to be encountered almost anywhere within its range where there is an accumulation of leaf litter.

    Sort value: 999

  • 87400_88_88 Animalia > Sciaenidae

    Sciaenops ocellatus

    Red Drum

    The Red Drum is an important game fish, popular with surfcasters, that is found from Massachusetts (U.S.A.) to northern Mexico.

    Sort value: 03.15

  • 15145_88_88 Animalia > Strigidae

    Sceloglaux albifacies

    White-faced Owl

    The Laughing Owl, which was found only in New Zealand, was first described in the early 1840s, at which time it was apparently common and widespread, but with the subsequent influx of European settlers over the next several decades populations declined; the species was very rare by the end of the 19th century and has long been presumed extinct.

    Sort value: 04.08

  • 65549_88_88 Plantae > Lauraceae

    Sassafras albidum


    Although roots and bark from Sassafras (family Lauraceae), a common tree in the eastern United States, were once commonly used to flavor tea and root beer, a component known as safrole is now considered a suspected carcinogen, so other flavorings (or safrole-free extracts) are now generally used instead.

    Sort value: 03.11

  • 14861_88_88 Chromista > Sargassaceae

    Sargassum C. Agardh


    Some Sargassum species are free-floating and occur in extensive rafts (e.g., in the Sargasso Sea) that harbor distinctive communities of organisms.

    Sort value: 999

  • 62618_88_88 Animalia > Dasyuridae

    Sarcophilus harrisii

    Tasmanian Devil

    Early European settlers in Tasmania bestowed the name Tasmanian Devil on this marsupial, inspired by its nocturnal screeching. Despite their fierce appearance and reputation, Tasmanian Devils feed largely on carrion, consuming even bones and fur.

    Sort value: 03.29