Friday, 12 August 2016 - 10:13
Long in the tooth: Greenland shark named longest-living vertebrate
A Greenland shark has lived at least 272 years, making the species the longest-lived vertebrate in the world – smashing the previous record held by a 211-year-old bowhead whale. But it may have been as old as 500 years.
“We definitely expected the sharks to be old, but we didn’t expect that it would be the longest-living vertebrate animal,” says Julius Nielsen of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Living deep in the North Atlantic and the frigid surface waters of the Arctic, Greenland sharks have a stable environment and grow just a few centimetres per year.
Despite their slow growth, though, they reach more than 5 metres in length and are often the apex predator in their ecosystem.