Extreme short lifespans are of interest because they mark current evolutionary boundaries and biological limits within which life’s essential tasks must be successfully accomplished. Here we document the remarkable eight week lifespan of the coral reef pygmy goby Eviota sigillata [ 1 ] ( Figure 1 A ): the shortest recorded lifespan for any vertebrate. Coral reef pygmy gobies spend their first three weeks as larvae in the open ocean before undergoing metamorphosis and returning to settle on the reef, where they mature within 1–2 weeks and have a maximum adult lifespan of just three and a half weeks. The rapid transition from larvae to settlement and then maturity is recorded in the calcareous ‘earstones’ (otoliths) of fishes by the deposition of periodic concentric rings; these provide not only a sensitive record of time but a chronological ‘black box’ which imprints the age at which important events take place [ 2 ]. Each day, pygmy gobies lay down a new ring in their otoliths, much as a tree does for each year. We collected 319 E. sigillata specimens from the Great Barrier Reef over both summer and winter periods. Age was determined after validation of daily otolith ring
Current Biology – Elsevier
Published: Apr 26, 2005
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