The Gastrotrich, In Brief

by Gary Niederhoff on November 19, 2012

A tiny cousin of flatworms, the gastrotrich came to our attention as having one of the shortest life spans in the animal kingdom. The microscopic varmints make their benthic life in either marine or freshwater environments, with the former often switching from parthenogenetic to hermaphroditic halfway through their lives. Within an average of three days, the gastrotrich is born, lays eggs, possibly fertilizes the eggs of another, and then shuffles off its tiny mortal coil. You can hear more about them in our recent program, No Expiration Date.

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