The shortest living animal on Earth, the mayfly has a 24-hour lifespan during which it reproduces and then dies. Of course the ones that make it a full 24 hours are considered an exception to the rule.
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These male ants have a mere lifecycle of three weeks. During those 21 days their sole purpose is to mate with the queen and to help with reproduction—they don’t build or defend the colony and die shortly after their mission in life is complete.
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These flies may be a common pest, but in reality they won’t be bugging you for long. The average house fly lives for four weeks, although those that manage to work their way indoors live even longer. Knowing that, can you really blame them for coming in?
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These butterflies sure are pretty, but their natural beauty only lasts roughly nine months in warm areas like Central and South America, or as little as six weeks in other parts of the world.
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Cockroaches may be impossible to kill, but in reality these pests only have an average two-year lifespan—and that’s if they don’t fall victim to pest-control first.
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The average lifespan of this rodent is a year, not that they typically make it that long thanks to pest control and natural predators. That kind of explains why they breed so quickly, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, rats also have a short life expectancy of one-to-two years.
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These popular ladies can last an average of three years, which is a great deal more impressive than her worker bees, who only live for a matter of weeks (depending on the climate).
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These fascinating creatures rarely get to live to their full four-month life expectancy as a result of natural predators and adverse environmental conditions. But while they are alive, they sure are pretty to look at.
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These reptiles may have the ability to blend into their environments, but that doesn’t help them to live past their year-long lifespan. During that time they breed quickly, but an entire generation will die before their offspring hatch. Colour us blue at that news.
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These American fish are versatile and can survive in freshwater or saltwater conditions, but in general the animal's two-year lifespan is only slightly higher in saltwater.
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These rodents are a popular household pet, but they only have a four-year lifespan. Few of the creatures even hit that though, since they’re prone to disease and humans often fail to notice when they're sick.
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Another popular household pet, goldfish have an average life expectancy of five-to-10 years. That doesn't mean they always die young though: the oldest goldfish on record swam around for an impressive 40 years.
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Peter may be timeless, but in general these creatures only hop around for about eight-to-10 years. They have numerous predators in the wild, from birds to reptiles, which decreases their chances of survival. Meanwhile as a pet their complex care needs often go unmet, leading to premature death.
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Usually these pond-dwellers live for 25-30 years, but there are some reports of koi living for more than 200 years. “Hanako,” one such fish in Japan, was supposedly 226 years old when she died in 1977.
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These gorgeous parrots typically live for 60-80 years, although they are now endangered in the wild as a result of habitat degradation and the illegal pet trade.
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Asian elephants can live an average of 70 years, but even more incredibly female elephants are believed to be fertile until their death. Meanwhile African elephants have an average lifespan of 60 years, but according to the Guinness Book of World Records the oldest elephant on record was Lin Wang, an 86-year-old male that carried supplies for the Japanese army in the Second World War before dying at the Taipei Zoo in 2003.
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These New Zealand reptiles have an average lifespan of 91 years with managed care, but in the wild and under the right conditions they can live for more than 100 years. Meanwhile they also take a while to actually be born: when tuatara eggs get too cold their development stops until the temperature rises, making tuatara eggs some of the coolest around.
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Galapagos Giant Tortoise
The largest species of tortoises still in the wild, the Galapagos giant tortoise can live past 100 years old. “Harriet,” who was collected by Charles Darwin himself, was 175 years old when she passed away at the Australia Zoo in June 2006.
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Although these saltwater clams (which are native to the Pacific Northwest and the Western Canadian coast) are a popular delicacy, when they’re not collected for food they anchor themselves into the ground and remain in one spot for their entire lives… which could be more than 160 years.
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Red Sea Urchin
Under ideal conditions these Pacific Ocean dwellers have been known to live for more than 200 years, during which time they use their impressive spines as stilts to crawl along the ocean floor.
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The second largest mammal on earth (after the Blue Whale) has an average lifespan of 200 years. In 2007 one whale was discovered with a harpoon from the 1880s in its back, helping to highlight just how majestic the lifespan of these creatures really is.
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These sharks grow roughly one centimetre per year, and take 100 years to reach maturity. Overall their lifespan clocks in at 400 years, but a Greenland shark that was believed to be 512 years old was once discovered. Numbers like those make these creatures the longest-living vertebrate around.
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“Ming” the quahog clam was 507 years old when it was discovered, which means it would have been alive during the Ming Chinese Dynasty. Typically though, these clams have a life expectancy of roughly 400 years.
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Turritopsis Nutricula Jellyfish
While these jellyfish do die from predators and injury, when they’re wounded or exposed to stress they revert back to their premature states, making them “immortal.” Kind of like a water-dwelling vampire if you will, only with far less bite.
From majestic sea creatures to the common household fly, animal lifespans vary greatly on this planet. While some critters are only meant to last hours in this world, others have lived through dynasties we’ve only read about. Click through for 24 creatures that have a lifespan worth talking about.