Fastest ma­tur­ing ver­te­brate on record

A fishy strategy to sur­vive drought in Africa.

Cosmos - - Digest -

The turquoise kil­li­fish ( Notho­branchius

furz­eri) em­ploys a stop-start life strategy to sur­vive in the ephemeral pools of the African sa­vanna.

Like seeds, tiny em­bryos sealed in a pro­tec­tive case lie dor­mant in sed­i­ments and spring to life when rain falls. Be­cause of their short life cy­cle, the small, colour­ful fish are ideal mod­els for ge­net­ics and age­ing re­search. In the lab their time to reach sex­ual ma­tu­rity ranges from 18 days to as long as 10 weeks.

But till now, no-one had timed how fast they could ma­ture from hatch­ing in the wild. Martin Re­ichard from the Czech Academy of Sci­ences de­cided to ob­serve the fish in its nat­u­ral habi­tat, south­ern Mozam­bique. The find­ings, pub­lished in Cur­rent Bi­ol­ogy, re­veal that the kil­li­fish clocked in at just 14 days, the fastest rate of sex­ual mat­u­ra­tion recorded for any ver­te­brate.

CREDIT: R. BLAZEK

Live fast, die young.

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