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Nature & Environment

The mayfly has the shortest adult lifespan of any known animal

By T.K. Randall
September 11, 2023 · Comment icon 3 comments

Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.5 Richard Bartz
Life is short, but when compared with the lifespans of some creatures, human lives last almost an eternity.
Which animal lives for the shortest time ? While there are plenty of contenders out there, one species in particular - the American sand-burrowing mayfly - might just take the crown.

Mayflies in general are already known for their short adult lifespans.

The eggs hatch into nymphs which can spend around two years underwater before developing into their adult stage. This brief period is then spent flying around, mating with other mayflies and laying eggs.

Adult mayflies don't even have mouths, so they are unable to eat and must live off the energy stored up during their time as a nymph.
As a result, this adult stage of their lives tends to be extremely short - often less than a day.

This might seem short enough, but the female of the American sand-burrowing mayfly exists as an adult for as little as five minutes - that's a very short time to get everything done.

Despite their short adult lives, however, mayflies have proven particularly successful in the animal kingdom having been around for over 350 million years.

"It seems like evolution decided you're mostly just going to do everything you need to do in terms of nutrient gathering as a nymph, and as an adult, you're just a mechanism of flying, reproducing and laying eggs," Prof Heath Ogden of Utah Valley University told Live Science.

Source: Live Science | Comments (3)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Cho Jinn 16 days ago
Five minutes is PLENTY of time, címon.
Comment icon #2 Posted by qxcontinuum 12 days ago
They've spend the best time of their lives 2 years as larvae . They just transform to die. So technically they live 2 years†
Comment icon #3 Posted by openozy 12 days ago
Yeah I'd rather have 5 minutes of fun than 100 years of misery.

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