Researchers have recently come across a fascinating find – a 400-year-old Greenland shark. This incredible discovery indicates that the creature was most likely born around the year 1620.
Scientists have declared that the Greenland shark is currently the Earth’s longest-living vertebrate.
Researchers used radiocarbon dating of eye proteins to determine the age of 28 Greenland sharks. One of the female sharks was found to be around 400 years old, making it the longest-living vertebrate on Earth. This new record surpasses the previous holder, a bowhead whale estimated to be about 211 years old. Even the lead author of the study, marine biologist Julius Nielsen from the University of Copenhagen, expressed surprise at the findings. Although they expected it to be an unusual animal, they did not anticipate that the sharks would be as ancient as they turned out to be.
The sluggish pace at which Greenland sharks swim through the arctic and North Atlantic waters have earned them the nickname “sleeper sharks”. These massive creatures can grow up to 5m in length but their growth rate is extremely slow, only adding 1cm per year. They prefer to swim slowly in the cold depths of the North Atlantic. The research team found that these animals only reach sℯxual maturity when they reach 4m in length. This occurrence would not happen until they are approximately 150 years old, given their estimated age range of up to 400 years.
A recently tagged Greenland shark has been seen returning to the cold, deep waters of the Uummannaq Fjord in western Greenland. In a study about Greenland sharks, researchers used radiocarbon levels found in the eye tissue of the sharks to determine their age. The radiocarbon levels were detected due to the large amounts released into the ocean during atmospheric thermonuclear weapons tests in the 1960s. Sharks with higher radiocarbon levels in their eye tissue were considered to be younger than 50 years old, while those with lower levels were estimated to be at least 50 years or older. To estimate the age range for older sharks, the researchers used their size and prior data about the growth rates and size of Greenland sharks at birth.
Researchers have discovered that Greenland sharks can live up to an astonishing 512 years old, with a probable lifespan of at least 272 years. The study conducted by Julius Nielsen shows that the sharks move at a slow pace through cold waters, earning them the nickname “sleeper sharks”. Despite being found with seal remains in their stomachs, experts believe that these sluggish creatures must have consumed the seals while they were already dead or asleep. The Greenland shark’s long lifespan is attributed to their extremely slow metabolism, emphasizing the saying “the slower you go, the farther you will get”.