Scientists Find 512-Year-Old Shark: Oldest Living Vertebrate On The Planet

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Back in 2016, a group of scientists explored the North Atlantic ocean when they discovered a Greenland shark estimated to be an ancient 512 years old.

At the time of finding the creature, it was said to be the oldest living vertebrate on the planet. Researchers who publish a report on Live Science said that Greenland sharks are very slow and swim through the North Atlantic at a sluggish pace.

“Seal parts have been found in their bellies, but the sharks move so slowly that experts have suggested that the seals must have been asleep or already dead when the sharks ate them,” Live Science reported.

The scientists also said that the Greenland sharks live a very long time, at least from 272 years to as long as 390 years old on average.

Julius Nielsen, a marine biologist and doctoral candidate at the University of Copenhagen told said the transparent tissue in the eye lens of a shark is a sign of is metabolically inactivity and that new layers are added throughout the shark’s lifetime.

“If you remove all layers, in the end, you come to the layer from when the shark was a baby. Then, you analyze that tissue,” Nielsen explained on Live Science.

After the shark that was believed to be 512 years old was found, researchers went back out to the North Atlantic to investigate eye lenses that belonged to 28 female sharks measuring between 2.7 and 16.5 feet long.

Along with other types of testing like carbon dating, their analysis suggested with a 95 percent probability that the sharks were at least 272 years old, and could be as much as 512 years old, with 390 years as the most likely average life span.

“For the two biggest sharks — which measured 16.2 feet and 16.5 feet (4.9 and 5 meters) — the study authors estimated ages of about 335 and 392 years old. Female sharks were already known to be sexually mature if they measured at least 13.1 feet (4 meters) in length, and based on the new data, the researchers were able to calculate that Greenland sharks reach sexual maturity when they are at least 156 years old,” Live Science reported.

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