The mysterious Greenland shark may prove to be the vertebrate with the longest life span yet, suggesting that the Greenland shark’s lifespan may be longer than originally recorded. The report suggests that the Greenland sharks could live up to nearly 400 years. Contrast this with the longest living mammal, the bowhead whale, also known as the Greenland right whale or Arctic whale, which can live upwards of 200 years.
Julius Nielsen, a marine biologist from the University of Copenhagen and lead author of the study said: “We had our expectations that we were dealing with an unusual animal, but I think everyone doing this research was very surprised to learn the sharks were as old as they were.”
Dating based on forms of carbon found in sharks’ eye lenses suggests that a large female Somniosus microcephalus was about 392 years old (give or take 120 years) when she died, says marine biologist Julius Nielsen of University of Copenhagen. Even with that uncertainty, the shark outdoes what Nielsen considers the previous record holder: a bowhead whale estimated to have lived 211 years.
The dating comes from the first use of eye-lens dating for a fish, Nielsen says. An analysis that produced the date, involving 27 other Greenland shark specimens, suggests that females don’t reach sexual maturity until they’re about 156 years old, Nielsen and his colleagues report August 12 in Science. Remarkably little basic biology is known for the Greenland shark, though.
Read the Research Study Here