1: Alabama Heelsplitter
This richly colored Gulf mussel, with a shell like polished leather in a college library, plays bluegrass with a strain of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The official “faunal emblem” of the Australian state of Victoria, this native of Australia’s central highlands opens for Alabama Heelsplitter and adopts a wry, collegiate irony toward the whole Southern-rock thing.
An eyeless spider from the karst caves of Bexar Country, Texas, it emerges as a jam band sometimes seen on the third stage at Bonnaroo.
4: Devil’s River Minnow
Another Texan, distinguished by a dark lateral face-stripe, the dionda diaboli plays old-timey songs of murder and sorrow.
5: Texas Blind Salamander
Swing, of course. When courting and breeding in the Purgatory Creek System, specializes in mating rituals involving tail-rubbing and gravel-kicking.
6: Resplendent Quetzal
This specialist in shimmering, Latin-toned world music was long known for committing suicide when caged, and so became a symbol of Mayan liberty. Signed to a label contract in 2004, it now breeds successfully in captivity.
7: Slender Chub
A ray-finned fish whose Wikipedia page is a stub indicating that it lives “only in America.” Perfected whiny college rock built around callow lyrical paradoxes while attending UVA. Wishes you would expand the stub.
An insect of the order odonata, resembles the dragonfly but with wings parallel rather than perpendicular to the body; a weaker flyer than its cousin, it plays enchanting but sometimes precious songs of longing and heartbreak.
9: Slackwater Darter
One of the stippled darters, with a faux-hawk that, I don’t mind saying, takes some upkeep, brings you its supple but glib indy pop from the highlands of southwestern Tennessee.
1o: Watercress Darter
Affecting Union Jack colors on its dorsal fins despite origins in the Black Warrior River basin of Alabama, it sounds a lot like the Slackwater Darter, but with an implausible English accent
11: Relict Darter
Though nondescript and isolated when at home in Kentucky, can really kick out the upbeat Dead-cover jams on the road.
12: Tooth Cave Pseudo Scorpion
Another Texan, with no eyes, twelve abdominal segments, and a deep catalog of ‘80s metal covers.
13: Pygmy Hog
Y’allternative, which is saying something for a mammal found only in India’s Assam state. Thomas Friedman is planning a column proving that the world is flat and full of fiddle tunes.
14: Purple Cat’s Paw
Thought extinct by 1990 after a punishing decade, this mussel astonished admirers by reappearing in Killbuck Creek, Ohio, in 1994 with its draggy, seductive lounge sounds a bit smokier but otherwise no worse for wear.
15: Round Island Day Gecko
Decades of ponderous Vegas lounge crooning have left this leathery Madagascar native hard to love but even harder to get rid of.
16: New Holland Mouse
After disappearing from sight between 1843 and 1967, this small and droopy Australian is now ubiquitous thanks to its distinctive electronica.
17: Goliath Frog
The largest anuran on earth, the foot-long, seven-pound Goliath Frog has only ever played straight-up rock and roll.
Jedediah Purdy: A way with rebar.