Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

ScienceShot: Tiny Amphibian, Long Life

It may be tiny, slimy, and blind, but the human fish has one thing going for it: It's one of the longest-lived animals around. Named for its fleshy color, the popsicle-sized amphibian, also known as the olm (Proteus anguinus) or the cave salamander, can live to be more than 100 and has an average life span of 69 years. That's about three times older than expected for its weight, researchers report online tomorrow in Biology Letters, as larger species tend to live longer. The team suggests that the human fish's unusual life span might be the result of an inactive lifestyle: The creatures don't move around much, and they reproduce only once every 12 years. Although, with looks like that, who could blame them?

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