A simple model of a biological community assembly is studied. Communities are assembled by successive migrations and extinctions of species. In the model, species are interacting with each other. The intensity of the interaction between each pair of species is denoted by an interaction coefficient. At each time step, a new species is introduced to the system with randomly assigned interaction coefficients. If the sum of the coefficients, which we call the fitness of a species, is negative, the species goes extinct. The species-lifetime distribution is found to be well characterized by a stretched exponential function with an exponent close to 1/2. This profile agrees not only with more realistic population dynamics models but also with fossil records. We also find that an age-independent and inversely diversity-dependent mortality, which is confirmed in the simulation, is a key mechanism accounting for the distribution. © IOP Publishing Ltd and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.