This Shark was born before George Washington - and still alive!
New research published in the journal Science says that we now know what the longest living vertebrates on Earth are: Greenland sharks. The scientists used radiocarbon dating to figure out the age of 28 of these sharks, and using Bayesian statistics they estimated one was 400 years old!
- The specific female shark is a minimum of 272 years old and a maximum of 512 years old based on the inexact radiocarbon dating.
- She was most likely born in the 17th century, making her 400 years old.
- The 400 year old shark is 5 meters long.
- This type of shark grows at only around 1cm per year, and doesn’t reach sexual maturity until age 150!
- The huge Greenland sharks sharks live in the cold North Atlantic, and swim very slowly.
— NYT Science (@NYTScience) August 13, 2016
[removed][removed]Until now, figuring out the ages of these sharks was difficult since they have soft body parts, and thus scientists can’t see growth layers. But, these scientists found a new way: radiocarbon dating the shark’s eye lens, which has special proteins that stay the same as when they are born and can thus be dated.
Greenland sharks were overfished during WWII since their livers could be used for machine oil, which has conservation consequences. There are few sharks left which are old enough to breed currently, but plenty of younger ones (under age 150) to replenish the population in the future researchers hope.