400-year-old shark found in the Arctic could be the oldest living vertebrate
The oldest surviving vertebrate is a 400-year-old Greenland shark, which would have attained sexual maturity at roughly 150 years.
Scientists have discovered a shark that is thought to be at least 392 years old, which is a surprising find. Yes, a Greenland shark has been discovered in the Arctic region, and it may be the world’s oldest living animal. The findings were reported in the scientific journal Science.
The researchers have measured the creature and estimated that it could be born as early as 1505. Known to live in temperature less than -1 degree Celcius, these creatures can swim as deep as 7,200 feet and weigh more than a tonne.
“You’re looking at an 11-foot Greenland shark, photographed in Arctic Bay, Baffin Island. Oddly enough, the Greenland shark wasn’t photographed live under water until 1995, partially due to the fact that they’ve been observed 2,200 meters deep. These guys are also quite slow, motoring along at an average speed of 0.76 mph. 🐋 Sharks are at risk due to habitat loss, bycatch (accidental catch in fishing gear) and a high demand for their fins. #SharkAwarenessDay 📷© National Geographic Stock / Nick Caloyianis / WWF” – WWF-Canada on Instagram
According to reports, the shark measured 18ft in length. It is this length which reportedly can mean the shark can be anywhere between 272 to 512 years old, as this species grows at a rate of 1 cm a year.
It is the oldest among the 28 Greenland sharks that are analyzed. These sharks have an estimated lifespan of 400 years and they spend their time swimming around looking for mates.
However, identifying the Greenland shark’s exact age is a difficult task. Eye lens radiocarbon dating was utilized by the researchers. All vertebrates’ eye lenses continue to grow with them throughout their lives, adding layers like an onion. The amount of radiocarbon that eventually made its way into the water increased significantly in the late 1950s as a result of atmospheric tests of thermonuclear bombs. This hump is known as the ‘bomb pulse,’ and it has proven a useful tool for determining the age of marine species. If the amount of radiocarbon in a shark’s lens corresponds to post-bomb-pulse values, the animal was most likely born after 1960.
“512-Year-Old Shark, Believed To Be Oldest Living Vertebrate, Found In North Atlantic – BY SUMAN VARANDANI @SUMAN09 ON 12/14/17 – Researchers have found an ancient shark in the North Atlantic, believed to be 512 years old, which could be the oldest living vertebrate in the world. While the animal was discovered months ago, its potential age was revealed in a study in the journal Science. Marine biologist Julius Nielsen found an 18-foot Greenland shark his team had been studying was at least 272 years old and possibly as old as 512 years. While the exact time of the discovery remains unknown, the news resurfaced as Neilsen completed his PhD thesis on Greenland sharks” – Paul H Bentzavrovish on Instagram.
It’s unclear why Greenland sharks can live for such a long time. It could be in their DNA, or it could be due to the fact that they live in cold climates and have a slow metabolism, according to scientists.
This species’ range is primarily limited to the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. The Greenland shark is a top predator that feeds primarily on fish. There has never been any evidence of it hunting. Smaller sharks, skates, eels, herring, capelin, Arctic char, cod, rosefish, sculpins, lumpfish, wolffish, and flounder have all been recorded as prey. Seals, polar bears, horses, moose, and reindeer (including a complete reindeer body) have all been found in the stomachs of Greenland sharks. The Greenland shark is a scavenger, and the scent of rotting meat in the water attracts it.
We might have no exact idea about the reason behind these mysterious creatures for their long lives, but what we can hope is that these vertebrates will boost conservation efforts to protect the species and its habitat. Now that we have found these majestic creatures, it is now up to us to preserve these animals for future generations.