10 Animals that Lived Longer than the Oldest Known Human
That’s Jeanne Calment, a French citizen who has the longest confirmed human lifespan in history at 122 years and 164 days. She was born on February 21, 1875 and passed on August 4, 1997 [Source]. She’s lived through both world wars, seen humankind land on the moon and witnessed the birth of the Internet.
So it may come as a surprise to some to learn that there are animals that have lived far longer than Jeanne and thus, any confirmed human being for that matter. Here are ten interesting animals that have lived longer than any human on our planet.
Ocean Quohog – 507 years old
Arctica islandica, common name the ocean quahog, is a species of edible clam, a marine bivalve mollusk in the family Arcticidae. This species is native to the North Atlantic Ocean, and it is harvested commercially as a food source. This species is also known by a number of different common names, including Icelandic cyprine, mahogany clam, mahogany quahog, black quahog, and black clam. Ocean quahogs live in water between 25 and 1,300 feet deep. In the northern part of their range, they’re found in shallower water closer to shore. [Source]
The mollusks are known to live exceptionally long lives with two specimens found to have lived 507 years (Paul G. Butler et al.) and 375 years (Schone et al.).
Oldest Living Mammals on Earth – 211 years old
The Bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) is a baleen whale of the right whale family Balaenidae. A stocky dark-colored whale without a dorsal fin, it can grow to 20 m (66 ft) in length. This thick-bodied species can weigh 75 tonnes (74 long tons; 83 short tons) to 100 tonnes (98 long tons; 110 short tons), second only to the blue whale in weight. [Source]
It lives entirely in fertile Arctic and sub-Arctic waters, unlike other whales that migrate to feed or reproduce to low latitude waters. It is listed by the National Marine Fisheries Service as “endangered” under the auspices of the United States’ Endangered Species Act.
In an article by science writer Ned Rozell of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a whale was analyzed with an age of 211 years. The aging method used measures changes in aspartic acid in a specimen’s eyeball and has an accuracy range of about 16%, meaning the 211 year-old bowhead could have been from 177 – 245 years old. This would make it the oldest known mammal that exists. [Source]
“Adwaita” the Aldabra Giant Tortoise – 256 years old
Adwaita (meaning “one and only” in Sanskrit) (c. 1750 – 23 March 2006) was the name of a 250 kg (550 pound) male Aldabra giant tortoise in the Alipore Zoological Gardens of Kolkata, India. He was amongst the longest-living animals in the world and is believed to be the oldest known tortoise on record. [Source]
According to the BBC, historical records show he was a pet of British general Robert Clive of the East India Company and had spent several years in his sprawling estate before he was brought to the Alipore Zoo in Calcutta about 130 years ago. The shell of Adwaita will be carbon-dated to hopefully provide a more accurate assessment of his age. [Source]
“Hanako” the Koi Fish – 226 years old
Koi fish are ornamental varieties of domesticated common carp (Cyprinus carpio) that are kept for decorative purposes in outdoor koi ponds or water gardens. Koi varieties are distinguished by coloration, patterning, and scalation. Some of the major colors are white, black, red, yellow, blue, and cream. [Source]
According to Laura Barton of The Guardian: the age of a fish is calculated in much the same way as one works out the age of a tree by counting its rings; most fish have growth rings on their scales known as annuli. This technique was used to estimate the age of Hanako, meaning “flower maid”, the world’s oldest koi carp, who died on July 7, 1977 at the age of 226 years. [Source]
The Geoduck – 168 years old
The geoduck (Panopea generosa) is a species of very large, edible, saltwater clam in the family Hiatellidae. The common name is derived from a Native American word meaning “dig deep”. Contrary to the spelling, the pronunciation of this clam is “gooey duck” and the odd spelling is likely the result of poor transcription. [Source]
The geoduck is native to the west coast of North America, primarily occurring in Washington State and British Columbia. With their extremely long siphons which can be 1 metre (3.3 ft) in length, the geoduck is both one of the largest clams in the world, and one of the longest-lived animals of any type. [Source]
These clams were not fished commercially until the 1970s, but in recent decades a huge demand from Asian markets has developed, and the clams are now farmed as well as being harvested in the wild. The clams currently sell for huge sums of money, which has made poaching a problem.
According to a scientific research paper by J.M. (Lobo) Orensanz et al., the oldest recorded specimen was 168 years old.
Sturgeon Fish – 125 years old
One of the oldest families of bony fish in existence, sturgeon are native to subtropical, temperate and sub-Arctic rivers, lakes and coastlines of Eurasia and North America. Sturgeon is the common name used for some 26 species of fish in the family Acipenseridae. Sturgeons ranging from 7–12 feet (2-3½ m) in length are common, and some species grow up to 18 feet (5.5 m). [Source]
In April of 2012, the Wisconsin state Department of Natural Resources tagged a 125-year-old sturgeon that measured 7 feet and 3 inches in length and weighed 240-pounds. The fish, which wasreleased back into the river after it was tagged, was also the largest ever captured in Wisconsin. [Source]
Orange Roughy – 149 years old
The Orange Roughy is a relatively large deep-sea fish belonging to the slimehead family (Trachichthyidae). It is found in deep waters (180 – 1,800m / 590 – 5,900 ft) waters of the Western Pacific Ocean, eastern Atlantic Ocean, Indo-Pacific, and in the Eastern Pacific off Chile. The fish is actually a bright, brick red color; however, the orange roughy fades to a yellowish orange after death. [Source]
The maximum published age of 149 years (G.E. Fenton et al.) was determined via radiometric dating of trace isotopes found in an orange roughy’s otolith (“ear bone”). [Source]
Freshwater Pearl Mussels: 210 – 250 years old
The freshwater pearl mussel, scientific name Margaritifera margaritifera, is an endangered species of freshwater mussel, an aquatic bivalve mollusc in the family Margaritiferidae. This species is capable of making fine-quality pearls, and was historically exploited in the search for pearls from wild sources. [Source]
In recent times, the Russian malacologist Valeriy Ziuganov received worldwide reputation after he discovered that the pearl mussel exhibited negligible senescence (i.e., lack of symptoms of aging) and he determined that it had a maximum lifespan of 210–250 years, according to his published report entitled: Life Span Variation of the Freshwater Pearl Shell: A Model Species for Testing Longevity Mechanisms in Animals.
Red Sea Urchin – 200 years old
Strongylocentrotus franciscanus, commonly called Red Sea Urchin (although its color ranges from pink or orange to nearly black), is a sea urchin found in the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to Baja California. It lives in shallow waters from the low-tide line to 90 metres (300 ft) deep, and is typically found on rocky shores that are sheltered from extreme wave action. [Source]
A Sea Urchin’s spherical body is completely covered by sharp spines that can grow up to 8 cm. These spines grow on a hard shell called the “test”, which encloses the animal. The oldest ones have been measured to be around 19 cm in diameter. [Source]
According to a research paper by Thomas A. Ebert at the Department of Zoology at Oregon State University, the largest reported red sea urchins are from British Columbia, Canada and are expected to be around 200 years old.
Lamellibrachia luymesi – 170 years old
Lamellibrachia luymesi is a species of tube worms in the family Siboglinidae. It lives at deep-sea cold seeps where hydrocarbons (oil and methane) are leaking out of the seafloor. It is entirely reliant on internal, sulfide-oxidizing bacterial symbionts for its nutrition.
The most well-known seeps where Lamellibrachia luymesi lives are in the northern Gulf of Mexico from 500 to 800 m depth. This tube worm can reach lengths of over 3 m (10 ft), and grows very slowly. [Source]
According to a research article by Sharmishtha Dattagupta et al., the tubeworm has a lifespan of over 170 years. [Source]
Scientific Research Papers:
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