Care to guess which vertebrate is the oldest living creature on the planet?
The Greenland shark just celebrated a birthday and if they made cakes for sharks, this big guy would’ve had 512 candles to blow out.
Scientist have know this shark was pretty old for quite a while, but even they were surprised to learn his exact age.
An average Greenland shark is about ten to fifteen feet long and can weigh close to 900 pounds soaking wet.
While an animal’s size used to figure into estimating its age, that isn’t a very accurate indicator.
Instead, radiocarbon levels in the shark’s eye lenses were used to determine that this particular Greenland shark is well over five centuries old.
Marine biologists have been studying this shark species to gather as much accurate information as possible.
While it was once thought that a shark stayed in one area its whole life, they now know Greenland sharks like to travel away from their birthplace, even outside of the Atlantic Ocean.
They don’t yet fully understand why Greenland sharks are able to live such long lives, but think it has something to do with the fact that they grow so slowly and take around a 150 years or so to reach their full maturity.
Most varieties of sharks only live an average of twenty to thirty years, not a drop in the bucket compared to Greenland sharks 400 year life expectancy.
Blue sharks only live to be 16, Great Whites and Hammerhead sharks can live up to 30 years, and Whale sharks can thrive for about a 100 years.
Like most animals, sharks live much longer in the wild than they do in captivity, even under the best of circumstances.
It’s pretty amazing to think that the oldest living Greenland shark was born in the early 1500s.
That puts his birth around the year 1503, close to Nostradamus’s birthday, which means this shark was already alive and swimming before Shakespeare, Galileo, Queen Elizabeth the First, and Ivan the Terrible came into the world.