Some of the following creatures are known to have dated back further than the Middle Ages making great grandparents seem like youngsters. From the youngest to the immortal, check out our round-up of nine animal species that hold records for their freakishly long life spans.
Jeanne Louise Calment: 122 years old
The first spot on the list belongs to the world’s longest living person ever. Born on 21 February 1875 and passing away on August 4, 1997, this French woman holds the longest confirmed lifespan in history, living to the grand old age of 122 years 164 days. Outliving both her daughter and only grandson, Madame Calment's genes may have contributed to her longevity since her father lived to 94 and her mother 86. According to several news reports, she is the last person lucky enough have met the artist Vincent Van Gogh, who allegedly visited her father’s fabric shop in 1888.
George the lobster: 140 years old
A New York restaurant was lucky enough to offer the most mature crustacean ever caught on their menu. At a massive 20lbs and born in 1869 - the same year as leading men, such as British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French painter Henri Matisse, giant lobster George was picked up from the icy waters of the Atlantic. Manager of City Crab and Seafood restaurant, who bought George for $100 (£68) said that a lobster’s age can be estimated by weight, with weight increasing by around a pound for every seven to ten years of life. Fortunately for George, after animal rights organisation PETA received a tip-off from punters about the tiny tank it had to live in, PETA managed to persuade the Park Avenue eatery to release George back into the wild.
Geoduck: 160 years old
Recognised as a large edible saltwater clam with a six-inch-long shell and a neck that extends up to about four feet, geoducks (pronounced ‘gooey’ ducks) are a native species of the Pacific Northwest of the US and coastal areas of British Columbia, Canada. The geoduck market is predominantly based in Asia with an expanding one in the US as the American sushi industry has sparked a rise in domestic demand for the odd-looking seafood delicacy. Burrowed in deep muddy waters, the oldest living geoduck was recorded to be 160-years-old, but on average they live between 140 and 160 when not hunted by predators or eaten by humans. According to scientists, a geoduck's longevity is the result of low wear and tear as they don’t have to do much in order to survive.
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Bowhead whale: 211 years old
Dubbed, the ‘old men of the sea’ by a US reporter, bowhead whales are the oldest mammals on Earth living on average between 100-200 years. One individual whale is documented to have lived to the ripe old age of 211. By tracking changes in amino acids in the lenses of their eyes, scientists are able to determine the approximate ages of bowheads. Biologist Craig George found the key to their long existence. He said: “The bowhead's tough environment - cold water without abundant food available forces it to maintain a great body mass, an effective system for fat storage and an efficient mechanism to keep warm. The stress of living in arctic waters may nurture the whale's pattern of slow growth and long life.” In the past, bowheads have been hunted to near extinction.
Koi fish: 226 years old
Koi are a domesticated kind of the common carp kept for decoration in artificial rock pools and ponds, there are types which are known to age to more than 200 years. One of the longest living vertebrate ever recorded, ‘Hanako’ translated into English as ‘Flower Maid’ is proof that women do live longer than men. The 15lb female fish from Japan died at the age of 226 in 1977. Born in 1751, 25 years before American independence, her old age could be accounted for by removing one of her scales and examining it extensively, similar to counting rings of a tree.
Tortoises: 255 years old
A tortoise’s long life span has been linked to the reptile’s slow metabolic rate. Experts reckon as a general rule, animals with a high metabolic rate die early, and those that burn energy more slowly can live on for decades. Reports in the media are frequently claiming that the world’s oldest tortoise has died – take Harriet and Tu’I Malila for example, who died at 175 and 188-years-old respectively.
But, Adwaita, a tortoise that lived in Bengal is estimated to have been around 255 when it died, making it just a toddler around the time of the American Revolution. Its age was verified by a technique called carbon dating, confirming Adwaita as one of the oldest creatures of modern times. His long life ended when his shell cracked and a wound developed some months before his death from liver failure in March five-years-ago.
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Quahog: 410 years old
Another seafood delicacy sets a record in the animal kingdom. In 2007, a specimen of clam was plucked off the coast of Iceland. By drilling through its cockle shell and counting each ring, the Arctica Islandica was claimed to be the longest-living animal species ever recorded by researchers at Bangor University. Nicknamed ‘Ming’ after the Chinese dynasty that ruled when the clam was born and its Siamese-like appearance, the clam was estimated to be aged between 405 and 410-years-old. Unfortunately, poor Ming died as it was being assessed by researchers.
Antarctic sponge: 1550 years old
One specimen of this slow-growing Antarctic Ocean dweller is estimated to be over 1550 years old. To put it in perspective, the specimen could have been living in 461AD – the same year that on March 17th St Patrick died. Though it may look more like a plant as it is immobile, scientists do class this sponge as a living creature with its lack of exertion and extremely slow growth contributing to its scarily long life span.
Turriptosis Nutricula: Immortal
This remarkable jellyfish-like creature tops our list as the world’s oldest living creature in terms of having no natural limit to its life span. The unique species is considered to be the world’s only biologically immortal animal, according to marine biologists at the Smithsonian Tropical Marine Institute in Florida.
A native to the warm salt waters of the Caribbean seas, the animal has been spotted far from its home in Spain, Italy, Japan, and the Atlantic side of Panama in recent times as it is thought they are silently invading the oceans by attaching themselves to ballast water tanks of ships. So what is its secret to anti-aging? The tiny transparent sea creature, which is about the size of a fingernail, can regenerate its entire body over and over again through a process called ‘transdifferentiation’ as it is able to turn one type of cell into another.