The origins of islands influence island colonization and radiation dynamics, thus exerting differential selection pressures on the species that inhabit them. The occurrence of lower numbers of predator and competitor species on islands than the mainland selects for ‘slow’ life-history attributes (the ‘island syndrome’). Animals colonizing, and radiating on, oceanic islands probably face more novel environments than do those inhabiting continental fragment and land-bridge islands. We hypothesized that oceanic island endemics will show the slowest life histories, whereas land-bridge island species will resemble mainland species the most. We predicted that species on old, small and isolated islands will also have slow life histories.