Can you imagine something alive since 1505? Impossible, right? Until recently it was unheard of, but based on recent discoveries things might begin to change!
Scientists think they have discovered an incredible Greenland shark swimming in the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean from 1505. The shark is supposed to be up to 512 years old, which makes him the oldest living vertebrate in the entire world and he is even older than Shakespeare.
Greenland sharks can live for hundreds of years, and they spend most of their lives swimming around the ocean looking for a mate. Also, they grow at a rate of one centimeter a year, allowing scientists to determine their age by measuring their body size.
This particular shark, which is one of 28 Greenland sharks to be analyzed by the scientists, was estimated at 18 feet in length and weighed over a tonne. This means that it could be anywhere between 272 and 512 years old. The shark’s possible age was reported in a study in the Science journal, based on the Sun.
If scientists got the shark’s age correctly, this shark would have been alive during many historical events like the founding of the U.S., both World Wars, and the Industrial Revolution.
Greenland sharks mostly eat fish, but people have never witnessed them hunting. Some Greenland sharks have had reindeer, and even horse remains in their stomachs. The animal is considered a delicacy in the country of Norway even though its flesh is poisonous if not handled properly.
Due to their longevity, academics in Norway think that the tissues and bones of Greenland sharks can help give us insight into the impact of pollution and climate change over a long period of history.
Researchers at the Arctic University of Norway are currently mapping the animal’s DNA to learn more about what determines longevity in different species, including humans.
The sharks have even been called ‘living time capsules’ as many of them pre-date the Industrial Revolution and large-scale commercial fishing, which could help us understand how human behavior affects the oceans.
“The longest living vertebrate species on the planet has formed several populations in the Atlantic Ocean,” stated Professor Kim Praebel at a symposium organized by the Fisheries Society of the British Isles.
He added: “This is important to know so that we can develop appropriate conservation actions for this important species.”