Dogue de Bordeaux
The Dogue de Bordeaux is a dog breed that's older than France itself, but these mastiffs live for just 5 to 8 years. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/daveynin

Seize the day, some say, while others lament that life is too short. But humans fare much better, compared to some of Earth’s inhabitants, when it comes to longevity.

Click start to play today’s Crossword, where you can spot a W. H. Davies’ quote about time running out.

Researchers have tried, for decades, to narrow down which animals have the shortest life span. But fleeting lives are difficult to study in detail, and there may be plenty of creatures that have been overlooked. However, a September 2023 report in US-based science news website LiveScience, shared some of the top critter contenders with the least longevity:

1. Mayflies

Ephemeroptera or mayfly. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Ruslan Kastani

These acquatic insects hold the record for the shortest life span of any creature. They hatch from eggs as nymphs, and live underwater for up to two years. But when they reach their adult stage, it’s a different story. American sand-burrowing mayflies, for instance, have the shortest adult lives of any recorded species. Since they don’t have functional mouths or digestive systems, they live off the energy reserves they built up as nymphs. The males survive less than an hour when they reach adulthood, while females have about five minutes to breed before they die.

2. Coral reef pygmy gobies

These tiny coral reef fish hold the record for the shortest lifespan of any vertebrate. Coral reef pygmy gobies spend three weeks in the open ocean as larva, then settle on a coral reef, where they mature in one or two weeks, after which, their adult stage lasts no longer than three and a half weeks. So, coral reef pygmy gobies can complete their entire lifecycle within a matter of eight weeks.

3. Ruby-throated hummingbird

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Male ruby-throated hummingbird. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Pslawinski

Found in North and Central America, the tiny, ruby-throated hummingbird has the shortest lifespan of any avian species. The oldest member of the species lived for a record six years and 11 months, but the average life span of this energetic, petite bird is about three to four years.

4. Giant Sunda rat

Holding the record for the mammal with the shortest life span, the giant Sunda rat inhabits Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. It lives for anywhere between 6 to 12 months. These mammals begin breeding when they’re a month old, and are able to produce their young just three weeks later.

5. Dogue de Bordeaux

While the average dog’s life span is between 10 to 13 years, the most ancient of French dog breeds, the Dogue de Bordeaux, has a life expectancy of just five to eight years. Known for being loyal, affectionate and protective, these mastiff-type guardian dogs are stocky and short, but impressively fast. But they are known to be susceptible to heart and orthopaedic problems, gastric torsion (bloat) and heatstroke.

What do you think of these short-lived animals? Play today’s Crossword and tell us at