The animal kingdom boasts several species with extremely long lifespans, far exceeding the average human lifespan. While humans may have an “absolute limit” of 150 years, this is just a blink of an eye compared to the centuries and millennia some animals live through; and some animals can even stop or completely reverse the aging process. While there are animals that have lived on land for a very long time (the oldest tortoise is almost 190 years old, for example), none make this list – the true longevity champions are all aquatic. Here are the 10 longest living animals in the world.
“Old turtle” Jonathan is nearly 190 years old
1. Bowhead whale: maybe over 200 years old
The bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) is the longest-living mammal. The exact lifespan of these Arctic and subarctic whales is unknown, but according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), studies suggest they can live comfortably. roof over 100 years and can live more than 200 years.
Whales have mutations in a gene called ERCC1, which is involved in repairing damaged DNA, which may help protect whales from cancer, a potentially fatal cause. Furthermore, another gene, called PCNA, has a duplicated part. This gene is involved in cell growth and repair, and duplication can slow down the aging process.
2. Rougheye rockfish: over 200 years old
The Rougheye army fish (Sebastes aleutianus) is one of the longest living fish species and has a maximum lifespan of at least 205 years, according to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Service. These pink or brown fish live in the Pacific Ocean from California to Japan. They grow to 97 cm long and feed on other animals such as shrimp and smaller fish, according to the Endangered Wildlife Commission in Canada (COSEWIC), an independent advisory panel that assesses the status of endangered species. threatened species. extinct in Canada.
3. Freshwater pearl mussels: more than 250 years old
Freshwater pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera) are bivalves that live by filtering food particles out of water. They mainly live in rivers and streams and can be found in Europe and North America, including the United States and Canada. The oldest known freshwater pearl mussel is 280 years old, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). These invertebrates have a long lifespan due to their low metabolism.
The freshwater pearl mussel is an endangered species. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), their numbers are declining due to a variety of human-related factors, including changes to the river habitats on which they depend.
4. Greenland shark: over 272 years old
The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) lives deep in the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans. They can grow up to 7.3m long and eat a variety of other animals such as seals, According to the St. Lawrence.
A 2016 study of the eye tissue of Greenland sharks, published in the journal Science, estimated that these sharks can have a maximum lifespan of at least 272 years. The largest shark in this study is estimated to be 392 years old, and the researchers suggest that these sharks can live up to 512 years old. Age estimates come with a degree of uncertainty, but even the lowest estimate of 272 years still makes these sharks the longest-living vertebrates on Earth.
5. Tubeworm: more than 300 years old
Seaworms are invertebrates that live long in the cold, stable environment of the deep sea. A 2017 study published in the journal Nature Science found that Escarpia laminata, a worm that lives on the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico, regularly lives up to 200 years, and some specimens live more than 300 years. Tubeworms have a low mortality rate with few natural threats, such as a lack of predators, which has helped them evolve to have such a long lifespan.
6. Quahog sea clam: more than 500 years old
The quahog sea clam (Arctica islandica) lives in the North Atlantic Ocean. This saltwater species can outlive even the other bivalves on this list, freshwater pearl mussels. According to the National Museum of Wales in England, a quahog found off the coast of Iceland in 2006 was 507 years old. The clam is nicknamed Ming because it was born in 1499, during the Ming Dynasty in China (from 1368 to 1644).
7. Black coral: more than 4000 years old
Corals look like colorful rocks and aquatic plants, but they’re actually made up of an invertebrate exoskeleton known as a polyp. These polyps continuously multiply and replace themselves by creating a genetically identical copy, which over time causes the coral’s exoskeleton structure to grow larger and larger. As a result, corals are made up of many identical organisms rather than a single organism, like the Greenland shark or the quahog clam, sσ coral longevity is a team effort.
Corals can live for hundreds of years or more, but deepwater black corals (Leiopathes sp.) are among the longest living corals. Black coral samples found off the coast of Hawaii have been measured to be 4,265 years old.
8. Glass sponge: more than 10,000 years old
Sponges are made up of populations of organisms, similar to corals, and can also live for thousands of years. Glass sponges are among the longest living sponges on Earth. Members of this group are commonly found in the deep ocean and have glass-like skeletons, hence the name, according to NOAA. A 2012 study published in the journal Chemical Geology estimated that a glass sponge of the species Monorhaphis chuni was about 11,000 years old. Other sponge species can live even longer.
9. Immortal jellyfish: possibly immortal
Turritopsis dohrnii are called immortal jellyfish because they have the ability to live forever. According to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), when injured or facing starvation, this jellyfish can press the “reset” button. With this re-establishment, the adult jellyfish return to the polyp development stage. The polyp then continues its life cycle and gives birth to numerous genetically identical jellyfish.
Scientists think that the immortal jellyfish uses a process called cell translocation to create this rejuvenating feat. In this process, a mature cell that is specialized for a certain tissue can transform into another type of specialized cell, AMNH said.
According to the Natural History Museum in London, jellyfish, which are native to the Mediterranean Sea, can repeat the feat of reversing their life cycle over and over again and thus may never die of old age under such conditions. suitable. Turritopsis dohrnii are very small – less than 4.5 mm – and are eaten by other animals such as fish or may otherwise die, thus preventing them from actually achieving immortality.
10. Hydra: can be immortal
Hydras are a group of small invertebrates with mollusks that look a bit like jellyfish. Like Turritopsis dohrnii, Hydras also have the potential to live forever. These invertebrates are largely made up of stem cells, which continuously regenerate through duplication or cloning. Hydras do not live forever in natural conditions because of threats like predators and disease, but without these external threats, they can be immortal.