The oldest vertebrates in the world are Greenland sharks. The discovery was made by scientists through radiocarbon dating of 28 of these animals, thereby managing to determine that a dead female was 400 years old.
In addition to age, the researchers found that they grow only 1 cm per year, reaching sexual maturity at 150 years. The research is published in the journal Science, one of the most important in the field in the world.
“We knew we were dealing with an unusual animal, but I think everyone on the team was very surprised to learn that they are so old,” says Julius Nielsen, a marine biologist at the University of Copenhagen.
Until then, the vertebrate that held the record for longevity was a Greenland whale (Balaena Yysticetus) with an estimated age of 211 years. If we compare it with the oldest animal among the invertebrates discovered so far, the 507-year-old mollusk called Ming, which would have lived from 1499 to 2006.
These ‘elderly’ swim slowly in the cold, deep waters of the North Atlantic, reaching up to 5m in length. Before World War II, they were overfished and their liver was like engine oil until the development of a synthetic alternative to reduce the demand for the animal.
With information from the BBC.