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National Museum of Natural History Species of the Day Collection

Last updated over 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.

  • 94505_88_88

    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

  • 00118_88_88

    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

  • 05397_88_88

    Ducula galeata

    Marquesas 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

  • 39658_88_88

    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

    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

    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

  • 28359_88_88

    Dissostichus eleginoides

    Patagonian Toothfish, Chilean Sea Bass

    The Patagonian Toothfish (marketed as Chilean Sea Bass) has been severely overfished and marine conservation groups discourage consumers from purchasing it.

    Sort value: 999

  • 54231_88_88

    Dipylidium caninum

    Double-pored Dog Tapeworm

    Like many parasites, the complex life cycle of the Dog Tapeworm requires both an intermediate host (in this case, a flea) and a definitive host (in this case, a dog or cat).

    Sort value: 999

  • 26245_88_88

    Diomedea epomophora

    Southern Royal Albatross

    This enormous albatross is among the largest birds in the world.

    Sort value: 999

  • 69471_88_88

    Diodon holocanthus

    Long-spined Porcupine Fish

    Like all species in the family Diodontidae, Long-spined Porcupinefish can inflate themselves by swallowing water (or air).

    Sort value: 999

  • 86784_88_88

    Dinochelus ausubeli

    Ausubel's Mighty Claws Lobster

    This extraordinary deepwater lobster was first collected in 2007 from the Philippine Sea off the island of Luzon and was formally described in 2010.

    Sort value: 999

  • 35179_88_88

    Desmodus rotundus

    Common Vampire Bat

    This bat, one of several species of blood-feeding vampire bats, feeds mainly on mammals, making an incision in the skin with its teeth and lapping up the blood that flows out of the tiny wound.

    Sort value: 999

  • 68343_88_88



    It is now widely (if not universally) accepted that the two extant species of flying lemurs (or cobegos)--which are not lemurs and do not actually fly-- along with the Scandentia (tree shrews) are the closest living relatives of the Primates, although the precise relationships among these three groups remain a matter of some debate.

    Sort value: 12.15

  • 11075_88_88



    The roughly 2,000 species of described earwigs are elongate and slender insects that are typically brown or black (although other colors, such as metallic green, are seen in a few species) and have the front pair of wings reduced and leathery (some species are wingless); the idea that earwigs enter people's ears is an old myth.

    Sort value: 12.14

  • 06977_88_88


    Carnation Corals

    These strikingly colored corals are among the most abundant and widespread soft corals in the world; although commonly encountered in the aquarium trade, they have a very high mortality rate in captivity, mainly because they lack photosynthetic "algal" symbionts (zooxanthellae) and must rely instead on filtering food particles and dissolved nutrients from the water column.

    Sort value: 999

  • 57638_88_88

    Dendrobium cunninghamii

    Christmas Orchid

    This orchid, is either included in the genus Dendrobium or is the sole species in the newly erected genus Winika. It is endemic to the rainforests of New Zealand.

    Sort value: 999

  • 47945_88_88


    Dendrobium orchids are among the most horticulturally important orchids.

    Sort value: 999

  • 78649_88_88


    Ogrefaced Spider

    Ogre-faced (or net-casting) spiders build unusual webs that they suspend between their front legs; when prey approaches, the spider stretches the net to two or three times its relaxed size and leaps onto the prey, entangling it in the web.

    Sort value: 03.23

  • 77506_88_88



    The six species of marsupials known as quolls (Dasyurus spp.) are found in Australia (four species) and New Guinea (two species).

    Sort value: 02.11

  • 36742_88_88


    Long-nosed Armadillos

    The Dasypodidae (armadillo family), the name of which means "hairy feet", includes 21 species, all of them found in the New World; the last armadillo species to be recognized was described only in 1995, from Paraguay and northern Argentina.

    Sort value: 02.12

  • 10213_88_88

    Danio rerio


    This fish, a longtime favorite with aquarium hobbyists, has become an intensively studied vertebrate model in developmental biology.

    Sort value: 999

  • 01075_88_88


    Cymbidium Orchids

    Cymbidium orchids were probably the first orchids to be cultivated and remain very popular today.

    Sort value: 11.18

  • 64301_88_88



    Cycliophora is a phylum that was recognized only in 1995 following the description of Symbion pandora, which was discovered living on the mouthparts of Norwegian Lobsters (Nephrops norvegicus) in the North Atlantic; watch the video from Creature Features explaining the weird and wonderful life cycle of cycliophorans.

    Sort value: 999

  • 99931_88_88

    Cuon alpinus

    Whistling Dog

    Dholes are wild dogs that are today found mainly in India; like African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus), Dholes have acquired a vicious reputation thanks to the speed with which they eat and their tendency to disembowel prey before it is fully dead--but attacks on humans are extremely rare.

    Sort value: 12.24

  • 72212_88_88



    The cumaceans are mostly small (typically <8 mm) bottom-dwelling crustaceans that are a major food source for birds and fish in many regions.

    Sort value: 999

  • 62376_88_88

    Cucumis sativus

    Garden Cucumber

    The cucumber likely originated in India, where it appears to have been cultivated for more than 3,000 years, then spread to China, eventually being spread throughout Europe by the Romans.

    Sort value: 999

  • 57736_88_88

    Cryptopsaras couesii

    Triplewart Seadevil

    The Warted (or Triplewart) Seadevil has a bacterial bioluminescent bait or lure (known as an “esca”), the structure of which is extremely useful (at least to humans) in distinguishing species; according to some reports, the entire fish may glow. Details of escal anatomy are often extremely useful in distinguishing anglerfish species

    Sort value: 999

  • 46389_88_88

    Coryphaena hippurus

    Mahi Mahi

    The Mahi-mahi is a popular sport and eating fish.

    Sort value: 999

  • 39981_88_88

    Coriandrum sativum


    The leaves of of Coriander (or Cilantro), which are used in a range of cuisines around the world, impart a strong flavor that tends to be considered extremely pleasant by some but repulsive by others. The seeds are also commonly used as a spice.

    Sort value: 12.27

  • 95640_88_88

    Corallium rubrum

    Red Coral

    The demand for this coral for use in jewelry has resulted in the unsustainable harvest of easily accessible populations.

    Sort value: 999

  • 03310_88_88

    Copernicia prunifera

    Carnauba Wax Palm

    This palm species is the source of carnauba wax, which is used in products ranging from car and surfboard wax to candy and dental floss.

    Sort value: 999

  • 62564_88_88

    Connochaetes gnou

    Black Wildebeest, White-tailed Gnu

    The White-tailed Gnu, or Black Wildebeest, is a stocky, thick-coated antelope with horns that swing down, forward, and upward in tight, angular hooks.

    Sort value: 10.25

  • 22190_88_88

    Coffea arabica


    This was the first Coffea (coffee) species to be domesticated. Two species, Coffea arabica and C. canephora (Robusta Coffee), account for 99% of commercial coffee production.

    Sort value: 09.23

  • 04943_88_88

    Coccyzus americanus

    Yellow-billed Cuckoo

    Yellow-billed Cuckoos, which breed in the United States and Canada, are among the few known "migratory double breeders": they have a second breeding season in mid-summer in western Mexico before continuing their southward migration to wintering grounds in Central and South America.

    Sort value: 02.22

  • 63661_88_88

    Coccinella novemnotata

    Ninespotted Lady Beetle

    Until the 1970s, the Nine-spotted Lady Beetle was the most common ladybug in the northeastern United States, but populations of this species have declined precipitously since then.

    Sort value: 06.04

  • 74367_88_88

    Clupea harengus

    Atlantic Herring

    This has been a commercially important fish in both Europe and North America for centuries.

    Sort value: 999

  • 13677_88_88

    Clione limacina

    Sea Butterfly

    This Arctic snail lacks a shell and swims using paddle-like lateral "wings".

    Sort value: 999

  • 32617_88_88

    Citrus aurantiifolia (Christm.) Swingle (pro. sp.)

    West Indian Lime

    Key lime (also known as Mexican or West Indian lime) is a thorny shrub or small tree in the Rutaceae (citrus family) that originated in Southeast Asia (likely Indonesia and Malaysia) and is now grown for its flavorful fruit in tropical areas from the West Indies and Central and South America to India, China, and parts of Africa.

    Sort value: 09.20

  • 15574_88_88

    Citheronia regalis

    Hickory Horned Devil

    The Hickory Horned Devil, named for the horns on the very large and strikingly colored larva (caterpillar), uses hickories as well as a range of other trees and shrubs as host plants.

    Sort value: 03.30

  • 98939_88_88



    At least five of the roughly 250 Cinnamomum species are used to produce the spices cinnamon and cassia, as well as essential oils, which are generally obtained from the inner bark.

    Sort value: 01.01

  • 58248_88_88


    The bark of several Cinchona species has been used as a source of quinine, the first effective treatment that was developed for malaria and the flavoring for tonic water.

    Sort value: 07.20

  • 83520_88_88

    Chondestes grammacus

    Lark Sparrow

    Lark Sparrows breed in open grassland and agricultural fields mainly in the western United States east to the Great Plains; most populations migrate south for the winter, when they may be found in Mexico, locally in the desert southwest, and in small numbers in southern Florida.

    Sort value: 02.21

  • 22520_88_88

    Chlorobalius leucoviridis

    Spotted Predatory Katydid

    These predatory Australian katydids can attract male cicada prey by imitating the species-specific wing-flick replies of sexually receptive female cicadas.

    Sort value: 999

  • 48921_88_88

    Chlidonias niger

    Black Tern

    Black Terns breed in inland marshy areas across much of the Northern Hemisphere.

    Sort value: 11.30

  • 35094_88_88

    Chionaspis pinifoliae

    Pine Needle Scale

    Pine Scale Insect is a serious and common pest of pine forests and Christmas tree farms, as well as urban ornamental trees.

    Sort value: 03.07

  • 54548_88_88

    Chenopodium quinoa


    Quinoa was cultivated and used by the Incas since at least 5,000 B.C.E.; in recent decades, this grain has become very popular in North America and Europe as well.

    Sort value: 11.03

  • 08922_88_88


    Deep-sea Flounders

    Chascanopsetta is a genus of deep-sea flounders found in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans; as is the case for many deep-sea fishes, the bodies of Chascanopsetta flounders are strongly compressed and flexible and the mouth is very large.

    Sort value: 999

  • 59558_88_88

    Chara vulgaris

    Common Stonewort

    This green alga belongs to a lineage that is believed to include the closest relatives of the land plants.

    Sort value: 999

  • 28556_88_88

    Champsocephalus gunnari

    Mackerel Icefish

    The Mackerel Icefish of Antarctica, like its close relatives, has colorless blood as a consequence of its lack of hemoglobin.

    Sort value: 999

  • 12296_88_88


    Arrow Worms

    Although chaetognath species diversity is low, local abundance of a particular species can be very high and chaetognaths are major players in many marine food webs.

    Sort value: 999