This 512-Year-Old Shark Is Now The Oldest Vertebrate On The Planet.
Living A Life In Ice
When we hear that someone has lived more than 100 years, it kind of blows our minds when we think about all of the things that they've lived through. But when we heard about a marine animal that may have been born before William Shakespeare, we were truly shocked. Could it even be true?
NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program
There is a mysterious creature living in the dark, frozen waters of the sub-Arctic ocean - a beast that goes by the name, Greenland Shark. This slow-moving animal is absolutely massive, and has managed to avoid humans at all costs, so there's not much that we know about it. But, recent studies have shown that the Greenland shark just might be the oldest living vertebrae on Earth!
The Oldest Alive
A team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen published a paper last year with the results of a study they conducted in which they tried to determine the age of 28 different female Greenland sharks. Julius Nielsen, the lead author, determined that the oldest of the group could quite possibly be more than 500 years old! If this is true, the Greenland shark would take the title as oldest animal in the world.
Ming Could Have Known Henry VII
Previously, the record holder for the oldest animal alive was the Icelandic clam, also referred to as an ocean quahog. The clam, which also goes by the name Ming, was an incredible 507 years old. Unfortunately, while they were still studying it, Ming died. But Ming wasn't the first species that was discovered to have lived more than a century.
Marine Life Lives Longer
The race for the longest-living animal seems to be led by the creatures living in the ocean. The Alaskan shortraker rockfish and the Namibian orange are both estimated to live up to roughly 200 years old, maybe even longer. Harriet, a Galapagos tortoise, lived to the incredibly old age of 170! They may be old, but the Greenland sharks definitely have them beat, but only if Nielsen was right about his estimations.
No Need To Rush
Doug Perrine/Getty Images
Verifying an animal's age isn't an easy task, especially one that has lived such a mysterious life. Researchers were alerted about their possible longevity by witnessing the Greenland shark's growth rate. They are suspected to grow approximately one centimeter a year! Despite their slow growth rate, they're one of the largest sharks on the planet, with lengths of up to 20 feet long! You may be surprised, but scientists think this is because of how cold their home is.
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