5 of the Longest-Living Animals in the World

Fagjun | Published 2017-04-01 12:24

While the oldest humans in the world live to be over a hundred years old, the world's longest-living animals can live much longer than that.

Over a hundred years? That's cute, Ming the clam would have said. At least it would have, if it hadn't been killed by scientists who thought they could just pluck it out of the ocean. Speaking of Ming, here are some of the most remarkable and longest-living animals in the world.

Ming the Ocean Quahog

The only known photo of Ming

Ming died at the age of 507 in 2006. Ocean quahogs typically live to less than half that age.

Researchers dredged Ming off the coast of Iceland and calculated its age from the growth lines on its shell. During the course of the study, however, Ming died. Fortunately, its death wasn't completely in vain. Researchers were able to get information on the changes in the environment Ming lived in. The discovery can also contribute to studies on how the longest-living animals grow to such an old age.

Greenland Sharks

Photo via Sharkopedia

Last year, researchers proclaimed Greenland sharks to be the longest-living vertebrates in the world. According to the study, Greenland sharks grow at a rate of only one centimeter per year. Only at the age of 150 do they finally reach sexual maturity.

The largest shark in the study, a five meter-long female, was probably about 400 years old.

Adwaita the Aldabra Tortoise

Adwaita in his enclosure

When Adwaita died in 2006, scientists weren't sure about how old he was. Some speculated that he was about 150 years old. Others, however, said that there's evidence to prove that Adwaita had been over 250 years old when he died.

Aldabra tortoises and other giant turtles typically live long lives. The oldest living giant turtle is Jonathan, a Seychelles giant turtle who may be about 185 years old.

Wisdom the Laysan Albatross

Wisdom at 50 years old with one of her chicks. Notice the tag on her leg, which helped researchers figure out her age.

Unlike the other animals on this list, 66-year-old Wisdom the albatross hasn't aged past a hundred. Still, she's the oldest known wild bird in the world. Biologists tagged Wisdom when she was about five years old in 1956. In 2002, 46 years later, the same biologist who tagged Wisdom unexpectedly found her again. This would have been surprising, since scientists thought that laysan albatrosses live only up to about 40 years old.

More remarkably, Wisdom is still fertile even in her old age. Wisdom has hatched about 36 healthy chicks in her lifetime, and is still fertile well into her sixties.

Immortal Jellyfish

Photo by Takashi Murai/The New York Times Syndicate/Redux

Can we still call “immortal” jellyfish old if they have the ability to reverse their aging process?

At some point in the adulthood of these jellyfish, they revert back to their polyp stage. It's basically a Benjamin Button kind of scenario, except the jellyfish don't die and instead merely age again. Instead of dying from injury, disease, or lack of resources, these jellyfish revert to the first stage of their life. This reversal doesn't always happen, though, and these jellyfish can still actually die.

As of now, scientists have not yet observed how long these jellyfish can live. We can assume, however, that the jellyfish can qualify as some of the longest-living animals on earth.

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