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This, from New Scientist
“If there is a one in 10 chance you will be eaten before the day is out, you have to live life fast. That could be why a tiny fish found on the Great Barrier Reef has the dubious distinction of being the shortest-lived vertebrate known.
The pygmy goby’s life span is a mere eight weeks, researchers in Australia have discovered.
The previous record holder, with a life span of 12 weeks, was the African turquoise killifish, which lives in seasonal waterholes and must mature and breed before they dry up. Now, studies of the pygmy goby - Eviota sigillata have shown their life span is even shorter.”
“They must be yummy!”
“Surprise they haven't gone the way of the dinosaurs.”
Killifish... Couldn't find Tourquise”
“This kid is pretty amazing.
Meet Nicky, and you remember his sense of humor and smile
Thursday, May 08, 2008
BY BOB BRAUN
At their kitchen table, Mike and Stacey Santonastasso talk of how worried they are about their son.
"But not this kid," Stacey suddenly says, her eyes fixing on their youngest child, Nicky, also at the table. They allow themselves a laugh.
It's a measure of how well they have raised Nicky, a measure of the extraordinary progress the boy has made since his birth nearly 12 years ago.
"We're not talking about Nicky -- we're talking about his brother, Michael, becoming a Marine," says Stacey. Becoming a Marine, now at Parris Island, and, if the war hasn't ended by then, the 19-year-old will deploy to Iraq early next year.
Sure, they worry about Nicky, too. Just not the way they once did. After he was born without legs and with only one arm that ended in only one finger. After some doctors said he'd be retarded and need a feeding tube -- and might even die.
They worried, too, about how he might be treated by other children -- and might come to hate his own life.
"But, you know, it just shows that, with enough love and laughter, you can get through anything," says Stacey.
The working couple -- he's a driver and she's an administrative assistant for the same plumbing firm -- have "let Nicky be Nicky," says Mike.
The result is a youngster who, despite the absence of limbs, can do just about anything any other boy his age can do -- just differently. Propel himself on a skateboard, even on his head. Ride a bike. Hit a baseball. Throw and catch a football. Play the drums and the piano. Type. Write. Draw -- so well, in fact, that he recently won a statewide poster contest sponsored by the New Jersey Parent-Teacher Association.
And he does it all with a smile and a sense of humor that years ago erased his parents' fears he would be emotionally devastated by the circumstances of his birth.
"He's funny," says Mike. Even a prankster. The other day he yowled from his room that he had hurt himself. When his mother called up to ask what happened, Nicky said he thought he broke his ankle -- and, for a moment, Stacey bought it.
When he rides his bike, Nicky will sometimes raise up his one arm and yell, "Look, no hands!"
For the first few months of his life, Stacey and Mike spent much of their time worrying about prostheses -- but Nick let them know he didn't want them.
"We got him an arm, but he didn't want to use it," says Mike. "We got him a hand. He just threw that stuff aside and adapted the way he wanted to adapt."
For example, he tucks a pen between his chin and his right shoulder and writes legibly. He throws a football by tucking it under his chin, too, and batting it away with his one arm. He can pick up a penny with the one finger on his left hand.
"Don't ask me how he does it, I don't know," says Stacey. "I can't."
Nicky has a wheelchair but he doesn't like to use it at home. He visits friends in their Bayville neighborhood by scooting around on his skateboard. At his local public school -- where the sixth-grader does well academically -- he has a wheelchair and an aide to help him get around.
"The schools have been wonderful here," says Stacey. "They are so inclusive."
He says he has not been teased by his schoolmates.
"They ask me what happened and I tell them -- I was just born this way," Nicky says. "That's about it."
Mike and Stacey say Nicky has taught them valuable lessons. Shortly after his birth, some counselors suggested they give him up for adoption and warned about the impact Nicky would have on their three older children.
"I remember one person saying, 'You owe it to your other kids,'" says Mike.
But the couple credit their other children for helping Nicky. Their oldest child -- Marisa, 22, now married and expecting her first child next week -- says, "We loved him so we treated him like we treated each other -- he got batted around like everyone else."
The Santonastassos have another daughter, Mehgan, 16, whose film of Nicky doing a handstand on his skateboard has so far drawn nearly 15,000 views on YouTube -- search for nicksanto534.
His parents also learned something about human nature. Most people who meet Nicky, they say, are kind. When Nicky's story first appeared in this column, many readers responded with help.
And Mike recalls a recent incident, taking his son to a local skateboard park and seeing a group of teenagers there.
"They looked kind of rough, you know, the way they dressed and acted. I figured, 'Well, we're in for it now.'"
But one of the kids saw Nicky on the skateboard and yelled, "Hey, check out the little dude!" and immediately made him a member of their group -- and made Mike feel ashamed for prejudging the young men.
The youngster probably will provide another surprise to strangers May 20 -- his 12th birthday -- when he goes to Drumthwacket, the governor's mansion, as a reward for the contest he won.
"The people who selected his poster didn't know about his physical condition," says Mike. "That's not why they chose it. They'll find out."
The poster, which will became part of a calendar about the importance of families, shows a tree with strong roots.
"It says 'The roots of a family are love,'" says Nicky Santonastasso.
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