Can there really be a living creature that’s over five centuries old? It’s going to seem impossible, but scientists have discovered one such beast living within the Northern Atlantic Ocean: a Greenland Shark.
It’s long been known that this shark is older than most, but scientists had no idea just how old he was until recently. Now that they’ve pinpointed his age to be 512 years old, he’s claimed the title of world’s oldest living vertebrate.
Greenland sharks are one among the slowest growing species, and don’t actually reach full maturity until they’re over 150 years old. They typically live for a very long time. So far scientists knew that they could live more than 400 years.
This 512-year-old shark estimated age means he was born way back within the 1500s!
What was in 1500s ?
But how can they pinpoint his age? He’s still alive, so they can’t examine his bones.
It’s fairly simple.
Marine biologists measured the amounts of radiocarbon within the eye lenses of the shark to calculate his age.
It was not the case with this shark though. They studied more of Greenland sharks while doing their research. As a result of their hard work, their they are getting more accurate results than in the past.
Measuring an animal’s age was more of a hit or miss than science, but times are changing. Scientists used to use the animal’s size to determine their age, but it was not accurate at all. As their size can be dependent on a lot of factors, where did they live, what did they eat etc.
In addition, the Greenland sharks doesn’t stay at the same place for their whole life. It’s in their nature to roam around.
Genetic analysis of the Greenland shark shows that they probably started off at the same area, but they migrated to other places. Scientists are still determining additional reasons why the Greenland shark lives such a lot longer than other animals they’ve studied, besides their slow-growing nature.