Greenland shark is by far oldest animal with a backbone, scientists say

Aug 16, 2016

By Associated Press

In the cold waters of the Arctic, a creature of the deep lurked for centuries. Now scientists calculate that this female Greenland shark was the Earth’s oldest living animal with a backbone.

They estimated that the gray shark, part of the species named after Greenland, was born in the icy waters roughly 400 years ago and died only recently. That conclusion puts the entire species at the top of the longest-living-animal list.

Using an unusual dating technique, an international team of biologists and physicists estimated the age of 28 dead female Greenland sharks based on tissue in their eyes. Eight of the sharks were probably 200 years or older and two probably date back more than three centuries, according to a study published last week in the journal Science.


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One comment on “Greenland shark is by far oldest animal with a backbone, scientists say”

  • @OP – Now scientists calculate that this female Greenland shark was the Earth’s oldest living animal with a backbone.

    They estimated that the gray shark, part of the species named after Greenland, was born in the icy waters roughly 400 years ago and died only recently. That conclusion puts the entire species at the top of the longest-living-animal list.

    Many of the Arctic and Antarctic marine species live life metabolically VERY slowly in near freezing temperatures.

    http://sciencenordic.com/new-record-world%E2%80%99s-oldest-animal-507-years-old

    One of the Arctica islandica bivalve molluscs, also known as ocean quahogs, that the researchers picked up from the Icelandic seabed turned out to be around 405 years old, and thus the world’s oldest animal.

    However, after taking a closer look at the old mollusc using more refined methods, the researchers found that the animal is actually 100 years older than they thought. The new estimate says that the mollusc is actually 507 years old:

    One leading researcher in this field is the German animal physiologist and marine biologist Doris Abele. She believes that the ocean quahog’s ability to live for centuries is primarily due to a slow metabolism. The animal lives its life in slow motion, so to speak:

    “The A. islandica has a very low oxygen consumption. When an animal has such a slow metabolism, it normally also means that it has a very long lifespan. However, I also believe that part of the reason for its longevity lies in its genes,” says Abele, who heads a research group for stress physiology and ageing in marine ectotherms at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany.
    Ming may not even be the world’s oldest
    Although the latest research has established that Ming is 100 years older than originally thought, it is still not certain that Ming is the rightful owner of the title as the world’s oldest animal.

    If the world of primitive organisms is to be included in what we call ‘the animal kingdom’, then the so-called primitive metazoans – a collective term for sponge-like animals, cnidarians, and worms – include a species that beats Ming by thousands of years.

    The glass sponge (Hexactinellida) is thought to reach an age of 15,000 years, and some researchers even believe they have found specimens with ages of up to 23,000 years.



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