The world’s oldest fish fly, dubbed FF12354-012517UoS, has passed on.
The insect, a member of the order Ephemeroptera, was born in captivity in a lab at the University of Saskatchewan on January 27, 2017 at 6:37 a.m. and died January 28, 2017 at 12:52 p.m. aged 30 hours and 15 minutes.
“She seemed to just hang on forever,” said fish fly researcher Dexter Dorkus, noting that in human years the bug would have been close to 137 years old.
“The average life span of these little guys is about 21 hours,” Dorkus said. “But FF12354-012517UoS, or as I liked to call her FF12354-012717UoS, was special.”
“You don’t really realize how attached you get to them until they’re gone,” he continued. “It seems like just yesterday she was a nymph.”
While there was an emotional outpouring of condolences on social media, not everybody was sympathetic.
Meryl Baldwin, a fish fly scientist at the University of Regina, questioned the validity of Dorkus’s claim.
“I’ve never seen one last more than 25 hours, so this seems more than extraordinary,” she said. “How do we know this animal was as old as he said it was? This has not been peer-reviewed. He should produce his data.”
Baldwin thinks Dorkus may have financial reasons to falsify that data.
“Fish fly research is a cutthroat field,” she said. “There is limited funding. A publicity stunt like this could mean tens of dollars in future grants.”
Dorkus dismissed Baldwin’s claim as professional jealousy.