The world’s oldest-known aquarium fish, an 84+ year-old Australia lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri) who went by the name of Granddad, from Chicago, Illinois’ Shedd Aquarium has died this month after declining health issues forced the hand of the aquarium’s staff to euthanize the creature.
Image Credit: Shedd Aquarium
According to a statement issued by Shedd Aquarium, the creature was refusing to eat and signs of organ failure were present at the time that the decision was made. A necropsy after the fact revealed that old age was the cause of the creature’s odd behavior, not any major health issues.
Granddad’s presence in the aquarium began back in 1933 and he has touched the lives of more than 104 million people during his stay. When the lungfish first arrived back in 1933, his exact age was unknown, so 84 years is the youngest he could possibly be, and he might even be older than that.
“It is incredible to know that over 104 million guests had the opportunity to see Granddad in our care and learn about his unique species over eight decades,” said President and CEO Bridget Coughlin, Ph.D.
“For a fish who spent much of his time imitating a fallen log, he sparked curiosity, excitement and wonder among guests of all ages who would hear his story and learn about the incredible biology that makes his species a living fossil and one of the oldest living vertebrate genera on the planet.”
The statement goes on to explain the uniqueness of the Australian lungfish as a whole, noting that the creature has existed on Earth for more than 380 million years and that it has remained mostly unchanged all this time, exhibiting next to no major evolutionary changes.
They’re native to Australia, hence their full name (Australian lungfish), but Granddad was imported during an expedition several decades ago.
What’s interesting about the Australian lungfish is their unique ability (for a fish) to be able to breathe either while above or under water. This is because they have gills just like fish, but they also have one single lung, which allows them to breathe even when they’re not underwater.
The creatures are thought to have an age ceiling of around 100 years, so Granddad’s 84 (or more) age estimate means that he lived a good, relaxed, and safe life in the aquarium’s care.
Granddad is now in a better place, but his memories won’t be forgotten. The following tribute video was uploaded to YouTube following his death in his memory: