Tiny fish that live in temporary pools in Africa reach sexual maturity faster than any other animal with a backbone, say scientists.
One of the studied species of killifish - Nothobranchius kadleci - started to reproduce at the age of 17 days. Researchers found that some eggs reached hatching stage in 15 days meaning they also have the shortest minimum generation time in vertebrates.
In the wild, these fishes live in extreme conditions of temporary pools that only occur during the rainy season when savannah depressions are filled with water. Dr. Martin Reichard and colleagues from the Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic studied the aging processes of two species of wild-caught fishes from southern Mozambique under laboratory conditions. "It is biologically very relevant for these fish to be able to sexually mature very fast because their habitat may dry out in three to four weeks," Dr. Reichard said. "If they mature very fast, they can produce a new generation."