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National Museum of Natural History Species of the Day Collection

Last updated 11 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.

  • 85255_88_88 Animalia > Eunicidae

    Eunice aphroditois

    Bobbit Worm

    Eunice aphroditois (colloquially known as the Bobbit worm), is an aquatic predatory polychaete worm dwelling at the ocean floor. This organism buries its long body into an ocean bed composed of gravel, mud, or corals, where it waits patiently for a stimulus to one of its five antennae, attacking when it senses prey.

    Sort value: 07.01

  • 18925_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: 999

  • 89239_88_88 Nepenthaceae

    Nepenthes attenboroughii A.S.Rob., S.McPherson & V.Heinrich (...

    Giant Pitcher Plant

    The Giant Pitcher Plant is one of the largest carnivorous plants in the world.

    Sort value: 04.17

  • 90312_88_88

    Tyrannosaurus rex

    Tyrant Lizard King

    We are celebrating the arrival this week of one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons ever recovered, which will be exhibited in the new NMNH dinosaur hall scheduled to open in 2019.

    Sort value: 999

  • 12510_88_88 Animalia > Chrysomelidae

    Leptinotarsa decemlineata

    Colorado Potato Beetle

    The Colorado Potato Beetle is an important pest of potatoes.

    Sort value: 05.27

  • 85847_88_88

    Solenopsis invicta

    Red Fire Ant

    The Red Fire Ant is a native of tropical and subtropical South America. It is invasive in much of the southern United States and of great concern outside its native range.

    Sort value: 05.26

  • 66783_88_88 Animalia > Eurylaimidae

    Serilophus lunatus

    Silver-breasted Broadbill

    The Silver-breasted Broadbill was formerly very common over most of its range in Southeast Asia, but is now only locally common.

    Sort value: 05.25

  • 76394_88_88

    Anisakis simplex

    Herring Worm

    Adult stages of the nematode roundworm known as the Herring Worm reside in the stomachs of marine mammals, with different larval stages occurring in crutsaceans and in fishes or cephalopods; infection with this nematode is the most common helminth ("worm") infection in humans resulting from the consumption of raw or undercooked fish.

    Sort value: 999

  • 76591_88_88

    Toxocara canis

    Dog Roundworm

    Infection with larvae of the nematode (roundworm) Toxocara canis, which occurs worldwide, is the most common cause of toxocariasis in humans.

    Sort value: 999

  • 86293_88_88

    Trypanosoma cruzi

    This protozoan parasite, which is transmitted to humans by blood-sucking triatomine assassin bugs (Reduviidae: Triatominae), causes Chagas disease in humans.

    Sort value: 999

  • 38199_88_88 Animalia > Ancylostomatidae

    Necator americanus

    This is one of the two main hookworms parasitizing humans.

    Sort value: 999

  • 41205_88_88

    Lophelia pertusa

    Deepwater White Coral

    This coral, which lacks the photosynthetic algae associated with most familiar corals, lives in deep, cold waters throughout most of the world's oceans.

    Sort value: 05.23

  • 84316_88_88 Animalia > Cicadidae


    Periodical Cicadas

    17 year cicadas are due to make an appearance in parts of the eastern United States this year. Periodical cicadas live only in eastern North America. Of the seven species, three of them have a life cycle of 17 years, the other four have 13 year life cycles. They spend most of this cycle living as nymphs (larvae) underground, where they feed on juices from plant roots. In the spring of their final year, they tunnel to the surface and emerge synchronously and molt into their adult form, mate (which involves loud, species-specific choruses by the males to attract females), and lay eggs. Their emergence is thought to be triggered by soil temperature.

    Sort value: 999

  • 96329_88_88

    Taenia solium

    Pork Tapeworm

    Humans become infected with Pork Tapeworms and develop intestinal taeniasis by ingesting raw or undercooked infected pork.

    Sort value: 999

  • 74955_88_88

    Diphyllobothrium latum

    Fish Tapeworm

    The Broad Fish Tapeworm is the largest human tapeworm, sometimes exceeding 10 m in length; in the human intestine, it may live for over two decades.

    Sort value: 999

  • 74804_88_88



    Thelazia is a genus of parasitic nematodes known as "eyeworms", a reference to their primary habitat in their definitive host (i.e., the host in which they reproduce): the host's orbital (eye) cavities and associated tissues.

    Sort value: 999

  • 52812_88_88

    Ascaris lumbricoides

    Giant Roundworm

    This is the largest nematode (roundworm) parasitizing the human intestine (adult females are 20 to 35 cm and adult males 15 to 30 cm in length).

    Sort value: 999

  • 90665_88_88

    Plasmodium falciparum

    Falciparum Malaria Parasite

    This organism is one of the two protozoan parasites responsible for most of the world's cases of human malaria.

    Sort value: 999

  • 10253_88_88 cellular organisms > Pediculidae

    Pediculus humanus

    Human Louse

    Human Head Lice (Pediculus humanus capitus) and Human Body Lice (Pediculus humanus corporis) are relatively recently diverged varieties of what is generally treated as a single species (the Pubic Louse is a distinct species).

    Sort value: 999

  • 36269_88_88 Vahlkampfiidae

    Naegleria fowleri

    This amoeba lives in warm freshwater habitats, such as hot springs, and can infect humans by entering through the nose; human infections are not very common, but they are typically fatal.

    Sort value: 999

  • 14386_88_88

    Loa loa

    Eye Worm

    Loa loa, one of the eight parasitic nematode (roundworm) species that account for most cases of filariasis in humans, afflicts around 20 million people in several countries in Central and West Africa; it is often known as the African Eye Worm because the adult worm can sometimes be seen moving through the sclera (white portion) of the eye, causing severe eye pain, inflammation, and sometimes blindness.

    Sort value: 999

  • 37496_88_88

    Enterobius vermicularis

    Human Pinworm

    The parasitic nematode worms known as human pinworms (Enterobius vermicularis, formerly known as Oxyuris vermicularis) infect humans worldwide, although pinworm infection (enterobiasis) seems to be more common in temperate than in tropical countries.

    Sort value: 999

  • 10453_88_88

    Cimex lectularius

    Bed Bug

    The male bedbug inseminates his mate by puncturing her body wall and injecting sperm into her abdomen, a phenomenon appropriately termed “traumatic insemination”.

    Sort value: 999

  • 90641_88_88 Animalia > Ixodidae

    Rhipicephalus sanguineus

    Tropical Dog Tick

    This small, elongated, red-brown tick is unusual in that it can complete its entire life cycle indoors, facilitating its spread around the world.

    Sort value: 999

  • 85541_88_88 Animalia > Ixodida


    Soft Ticks

    Unlike the ixodid (hard) ticks (Family Ixodidae), which stay attached to their hosts for up to several days while feeding, most argasid ticks (Family Argasidae) are adapted to feeding rapidly (for about an hour), then dropping off the host.

    Sort value: 999

  • 52664_88_88 Animalia > Ixodidae

    Ixodes scapularis

    Black-legged Tick

    The Black-legged Tick (often known as the "Deer Tick"), is best known as an important vector in the eastern United States of Lyme borreliosis (Lyme Disease), the most prevalent tick-transmitted infection not only in this region but, more generally, in temperate areas of Europe, North America, and Asia.

    Sort value: 999

  • 33274_88_88 Animalia > Ixodidae

    Ixodes ricinus

    Sheep Tick

    This Eurasian tick transmits numerous diseases to both humans and domestic animals; it is an important vector of human Lyme disease in Europe.

    Sort value: 999

  • 67334_88_88


    Unlike most other ixodid ticks, which wait on vegetation for a host to pass, adult Hyalomma actively run out from their resting sites when a host approaches.

    Sort value: 999

  • 67759_88_88 Animalia > Ixodidae

    Dermacentor variabilis

    American Dog Tick

    The American Dog Tick, which has a 3-host life cycle, occurs mainly in the eastern United States (although it occurs outside this region as well), where adults are commonly encountered on dogs.

    Sort value: 999

  • 15593_88_88

    Amblyomma maculatum

    Gulf Coast Tick

    Larvae and nymphs of the Gulf Coast Tick feed on small rodents and ground-dwelling birds; adults feed mainly on the ears of large mammals and are considered an economic pest of cattle.

    Sort value: 999

  • 48200_88_88

    Lobesia botrana

    European Vine Moth

    This widely introduced vineyard pest, which was first reported from Chile in 2008 and from the U.S. (Napa Valley, California) in 2009, is currently a source of great concern for the wine industry.

    Sort value: 05.22

  • 34635_88_88 Animalia > Arbaciidae

    Coelopleurus exquisitus

    Exquisite Urchin

    eBay played an important role in the recent discovery of this beautiful sea urchin.

    Sort value: 05.21

  • 93626_88_88

    Riftia pachyptila

    Hydrothermal Vent Worm

    Riftia pachyptila is a large tube worm that lives on the ocean floor near hydrothermal vents on the East Pacific Rise, more than a mile under the sea.

    Sort value: 05.20

  • 72029_88_88

    Histrio histrio

    Sargassum Fish

    The Sargassum Fish is typically associated with mats of floating Sargassum Weed, within which it is well camouflaged as a result of its mottled appearance.

    Sort value: 05.19

  • 82539_88_88

    Elysia chlorotica

    Eastern Emerald Elysia

    This sea slug eats algae and retains functional chloroplasts in tissue for days to months.

    Sort value: 05.17

  • 96092_88_88 Animalia > Araneidae

    Argiope aurantia

    Yellow Garden Spider

    This familiar orb-weaving spider has a distribution extending from Canada to Central America.

    Sort value: 05.16

  • 40670_88_88 Lessoniaceae

    Macrocystis pyrifera

    Giant Kelp

    Dense underwater kelp forests provide the basis for biologically diverse ecological communities.

    Sort value: 05.15

  • 70318_88_88 Animalia > Phascolarctidae

    Phascolarctos cinereus


    This much beloved marsupial (not a true bear) is threatened by disease, habitat loss, and climate change.

    Sort value: 05.14

  • 21640_88_88 Animalia > Gastropoda


    Sea Slugs

    Nudibranchs are mostly colorful, and the color denotes danger or crypsis. Although they evolved from shelled ancestors, they have completely lost all vestiges of a shell.

    Sort value: 05.13

  • 26952_88_88 Pleurotaceae

    Pleurotus ostreatus

    Oyster Mushroom

    The Oyster Mushroom is widespread in temperate and subtropical forests. It is a saprotroph that acts as a primary decomposer of hardwoods.

    Sort value: 05.12

  • 57638_88_88 Animalia > Danaus (Danaus) Kluk 1780

    Danaus plexippus


    The aposematic coloring of this large, widespread migratory butterfly warns potential vertebrate predators that it is poisonous.

    Sort value: 05.11

  • 28494_88_88 Plantae > Hydrocharitaceae

    Thalassia testudinum Banks ex K. D. König

    Turtle Grass

    Turtle Grass can form very extensive beds in protected shallow waters that serve as both habitat and a food source for a tremendous diversity of organisms.

    Sort value: 05.10

  • 27661_88_88 Plantae > Sterculiaceae

    Theobroma cacao


    The seeds of this plant are used to make cocoa and chocolate.

    Sort value: 05.09

  • 45995_88_88 Animalia > Centrarchidae

    Lepomis gibbosus


    Ubiquitous throughout North America and beyond (native and widely introduced).

    Sort value: 05.08

  • 80977_88_88 Animalia > Oreasteridae

    Oreaster reticulatus

    Cushion Sea Star

    The large Cushion Sea Star is widely distributed on both sides of the Atlantic, from North Carolina (USA) to as far south as Brazil and the Cape Verde Islands in West Africa.

    Sort value: 05.07

  • 41380_88_88 Fungi > Amanita Pers. 1797

    Amanita muscaria

    Fly Agaric

    This is the classic European fairytale mushroom, bearing white gills and white warts on a typically bright red cap. These mushrooms are known to contain several toxic, psychoactive compounds.

    Sort value: 05.06

  • 93639_88_88 Plantae > Orchidaceae


    Bee Orchids

    Members of this mainly European genus are referred to as the "Bee orchids" due to the flowers of some species resemblance to the furry bodies of bees and other insects. These plants are remarkable in that they successfully reproduce through pseudocopulation, that is, their flowers mimic female insects to such a degree that amorous males are fooled into mating with the flowers, thereby pollinating them.

    Sort value: 05.05

  • 07320_88_88 Animalia > Salticidae

    Phidippus regius

    Regal Jumping Spider

    This is the largest jumping spider in eastern North America. The Regal jumping spider is most commonly found in relatively open areas, such as fields and light woodland, with adults usually preferring trees or the walls of buildings as hunting grounds.

    Sort value: 05.04

  • 85539_88_88 Plantae > Convolvulaceae

    Ipomoea pes-caprae


    Ipomoea pes-caprae subspecies brasiliensis is perennial trailing vine forms large mats just above the high tide line on coastal beaches and dunes throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

    Sort value: 04.16

  • 98835_88_88 Plantae > Malvaceae

    Althaea officinalis

    Marsh Mallow

    Sap from the roots of the Marsh Mallow plant was originally used in making the confection known as marshmallow.

    Sort value: 04.15