When compared to the lifespans of certain animals, the lives of humans on the planet can be considered brief. While humans have an average lifespan of 72 years, some organisms on the Earth are immortal and can live for thousands of years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Scientists are attempting to solve the secrets of why some animals live so long to use this knowledge to prolong the human lifetime. Here is a list of some of the most long-lived animals:
Historically, determining age in bowhead whales has been challenging, and life history factors such as body length are better understood than age. Bowhead whales lived well over 100 years, based on the discovery of stone harpoon tips from harvested bowheads. New techniques, however, allow for a more precise estimation of bowhead whale age, and studies indicate that they may live to be beyond 200 years old. Their longevity may be due to genes that allow for the repair of damaged DNA.
Bowhead whales achieve sexual maturity around 25 when their entire body length is between 35 and 45 feet. Mating activity has been recorded all year, while most conceptions are thought to occur in late winter or early spring.
A fish was hatched in Alaska long before it was a state. And for the past 200 years, that fish has lived off the coast of Alaska, ignorant to the centuries of national and personal dramas that have unfolded nearby. That is, until now.
A 39-pound, 41-inch-long shortraker rockfish taken by a Seattle resident is thought to be over two centuries old. If the age is correct, this is the oldest shortracker ever captured.
The Shortraker rockfish is considered to have an average lifespan of around 120 years and to be the second-longest-living of all rockfish species, with the Rougheye species leading the list at around 140 years. That means rockfish are among the world’s oldest living fish, rivalled only by similarly long-lived fish like the sturgeon, a North American ancient animal that may live for more than a century.
The freshwater pearl mussel
The freshwater pearl mussel, also known as the eastern pearl shell, is found in rivers and streams throughout Europe. The range extends from Norway to Spain, with populations in the United Kingdom and Scotland. This species has also been introduced to North America, where large populations are in the northeastern United States and along the eastern Canadian coast.
Freshwater pearl mussels are a species that lives a long time. The typical lifespan is between 86 and 102 years, but it varies widely depending on environmental factors such as water quality. The world’s oldest freshwater pearl mussel was discovered to be 280 years old. However, few freshwater pearl mussels survive their first year; most are swept away by the stream as glochidia or die as juveniles due to inadequate living conditions.
According to a study that used eye lens radiocarbon dating, a Greenland shark has a minimum life span of 272 years and a maximum recorded age of 392 years., the Greenland shark is the longest-living vertebrate known to man. Because of potential population decreases, the shark is designated “near-threatened.” The Greenland shark lives at depths ranging from 4,000 to over 7,000 feet in the Arctic and North Atlantic. In adulthood, this shark grows slowly to 8 to 14 feet. It forages for food and consumes a variety of fish and birds.
The tubeworm Escarpia laminate appears to live for almost 300 years in an environment with year-round availability of food and no predators. Some maybe 1000 years old or older!
These tubeworms reside in aggregations of five to more than 200 individuals surrounding cold seeps between 1000 and 3300 meters below sea level. Brittle Stars, crabs, mussels, clams, and a wide variety of tiny worms live in this environment.
Ocean quahog clams
The North Atlantic Ocean is home to this species. This saltwater creature can outlast the other bivalve on this article, freshwater pearl mussels. An ocean quahog clam found off the coast of Iceland in 2006 was 507 years old. The Ming clam got its name because it was born in 1499, during the Ming Dynasty, which controlled China from 1368 to 1644.
Researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Stanford University, and the University of California, Santa Cruz, discovered that two kinds of Hawaiian deep-sea corals are far older than previously thought.
LLNL researchers Tom Guilderson and Stewart Fallon used radiocarbon dating to calculate the ages of Gerardia sp. or gold coral, and specimens of the deep-water black coral, Leiopathes sp., using the Lab’s Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry. The oldest lived individuals in both species were 2,740 and 4,270 years old. The deep-water black coral is the oldest living skeletal-accreting marine creature, dating back more than 4,000 years.
Sponges, like corals, are built up of animal colonies that can live for thousands of years. Glass sponges are among the world’s longest-living sponges. This group is often found in the deep ocean and has skeletons resembling glass. According to one study, a glass sponge named Monorhaphis chuni was approximately 11,000 years old. Other sponge species may be able to exist for much longer periods.
Turritopsis dohrnii jellyfish
These small, transparent animals have a remarkable ability to survive. In reaction to physical harm or even famine, they take a step back in their development phase, changing back into a polyp. The born-again polyp colony ultimately blooms and frees medusae that are genetically identical to the damaged adult, in a process that seems to be immortal.
The Hydra, a small freshwater invertebrate, is an excellent model organism for regenerative biologists. This tiny, jellyfish-like creature, named after the serpent from Greek mythology that developed two new heads for each chopped off, contains the answer to biological immortality within its genomic code.
Hydra is remarkable in that its stem cells are constantly renewing. These creatures show no indications of ageing when kept secure and isolated, and the only true dangers they encounter are predators, extreme weather, and sickness outside of the lab.
Hydra can also survive dismemberment by regenerating lost body parts.