According to researchers doing scientific studies off the coast of Greenland, a shark was found swimming slowly through the icy waters to be around 400 years old.
The Oldest Living Vertebrate
They’re calling it the oldest living vertebrate animal in the world and they found out the shark was as old as it was by doing radiocarbon dating testing on it. They tested 28 different animals and were very excited to see that one of the female sharks was so old.
“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.” said Julius Nielsen in Science Magazine, a marine biologist from the University of Copenhagen.
Radiocarbon Dating Testing Shows Estimate Age
Most of these sharks were accidentally caught in fishing nets as by-catch and died. However, since the fishermen were not interested in the sharks they gave them to the scientist to study. The researchers took the shark’s eye lens that is made of a special protein tissue and tested it through radiocarbon dating which shows an estimated age of the shark.
Radiocarbon dating testing doesn’t show the exact date of birth, however, they believe the shark could be anywhere from 272 years old to 512 years old. With that said, they feel its real age is somewhere in the middle, around 400 years old.
“Even with the lowest part of this uncertainty, 272 years, even if that is the maximum age, it should still be considered the longest-living vertebrate,” said Mr Nielsen.