A shark that was reeled in from the ocean waters surrounding the land mass we know as Greenland has been given an age figure well above 300 years, potentially making this the new record-breaker for longest-living vertebrate.
The shark, dubbed the Greenland Shark for the region where it was caught, was pulled in from the water by accident while a fishing ship was making its runs.
Image Credit: Julius Nielsen/Reuters
Because the shark was already deceased, it gave scientists the ability to try and put an age on it, along with some others that were caught. The grand total of Greenland Sharks that were dated chalked up to about 28. They ranged in size from 51-502cm.
The findings from the dating process appear in the journal Science.
The scientists reportedly used a not-so-common dating process that requires samples of eye tissue. At least eight of them were under 200 years old, but two were well over 300 years old and the rest fell somewhere in between.
The largest of the specimens had an age estimate of 392 ± 120.
If true, this means the Greenland Shark has reached a new record of age for known vertebrates. The 300+ figure beats the 211-year record that was previously set by a Bowhead Whale.
According to the study, this species grows very slowly as it ages. It’s possible that they reach maturity at somewhere around 150 years of age.
Not all dating processes are 100% accurate, so the biologists are careful to explain that it’s no more than an estimate. These age numbers are possible, but they’re not guaranteed to be 100% correct.
Even if the shark wasn’t really 300+ years old, Biologists say that it was at least 272 years old when it had died, which is still a record-breaking number.
Those species of old turtles that you’ve always grown up to know to be some of the oldest-living vertebrates in the world may not actually be anymore, as science has made it possible to date other creatures that have lived longer than we have.