The animal kingdom has several incredibly long-living animals that outlive the typical person. While humans have an “absolute maximum” of 150 years, this is a mere blink of an eye compared to the hundreds and millennia that certain species live; and some creatures can even stop or reverse the ageing process entirely.
These animals surpass the challenges, ecosystems and predators to survive that long to outlive humans! Also, there are some animals that have specific genetic characteristics that prolong their lifespan and give them extended mortality. So, let us look at the list of the longest living animals on planet Earth.
The longest living animals are bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus). The precise lifetime of Arctic and subarctic whales is unclear. However, stone harpoon points discovered in some harvested individuals show that they may easily survive for more than 100 years and may perhaps live for more than 200 years.
Mutations in the whales’ ERCC1 gene, which mends damaged DNA, may help protect the whales against cancer, a possible cause of death. Furthermore, a portion of another gene, PCNA, also duplicates. This gene is involved in cell development and repair, and its duplication may delay the ageing process. Bowhead whales live well over 100 years, based on the recovery of stone harpoon points from butchered bowheads. New techniques, however, allow for a more exact calculation of bowhead whale age, and studies indicate that they may live to be beyond 200 years old.
According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the wild eye rockfish (Sebastes aleutianus) has one of the most extended lives of any fish, with a maximum lifetime of at least 205 years. These pink or brownish fish can be found from California to Japan in the Pacific Ocean. However, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, they may grow 38 inches (97 cm) long and consume other creatures such as shrimp and smaller fish.
Freshwater Pearl Mussel
The freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) is a bivalve that filters food particles from the water. They are primarily found in rivers and streams in Europe and North America, including the United States and Canada. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the oldest known freshwater pearl mussel is 280 years old (WWF) and the longest living animal in its species category. Because of their sluggish metabolism, these invertebrates live for a long time.
The freshwater pearl mussel is a threatened species. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, their population is falling. It is primarily due to many human-related causes, including destruction and alterations to the river ecosystems they rely on (IUCN).
The Arctic and North Atlantic seas are home to Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus). According to the St. Lawrence Shark Observatory in Canada, they may grow to be 24 feet (7.3 metres) long and eat a range of different species, including fish and marine mammals such as seals.
According to 2016 research on Greenland shark eye tissue published in the journal Science, these sharks may live for 272 years. According to Live Science, the oldest shark in that study was determined to be 392 years old, and the researchers speculated that the shark may have been as ancient as 512 years old. The age estimations were subject to some uncertainty, but even the lowest estimate of 272 years makes these sharks the longest living animals on the planet. Given age, Greenland sharks may still be rebounding from overfishing prior to WW2 due to their exceptional lifespan.
Tubeworms are invertebrates that live for a long time in the deep sea’s chilly, stable environment. According to 2017 research published in the journal The Science of Nature, Escarpia laminata, a species of tubeworm found on the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico, may live for up to 200 years, with some individuals lasting for more than 300 years. In addition, tubeworms have a low mortality rate and minimal natural dangers, such as a lack of predators, which has allowed them to grow for such lengthy lifespans.
Ocean Quahog Clam
Ocean quahogs are among the world’s longest living animals of the aquatic world. They may live for at least 200 years off the East Coast of the United States, where fishing takes place. They develop slowly and do not begin reproducing until about the age of 6, and they do not reach a commercially harvestable size until around the age of 20.
The North Atlantic Ocean is home to ocean quahog clams (Arctica islandica). This saltwater species can outlive the other bivalve on this list, freshwater pearl mussels. According to the National Museum Wales in the United Kingdom, one ocean quahog clam discovered off the coast of Iceland in 2006 was 507 years old. The ancient clam was given the name Ming because it was born in 1499, during China’s Ming Dynasty (from 1368 to 1644).
Corals appear to be beautiful underwater rocks and plants, but they are the exoskeletons of invertebrates called polyps. These polyps constantly reproduce and replace themselves by producing a genetically identical duplicate, causing the coral exoskeleton structure to grow larger and larger over time. Corals are thus made up of numerous identical creatures rather than single organisms, as Greenland sharks or ocean quahog clams are. Hence, a coral’s lifespan is more of a collaborative effort.
Deep-water black corals (Leiopathes sp.) are the longest living corals, lasting for hundreds of years or more. For example, black coral specimens discovered off the coast of Hawaii have been dated 4265 years.
Sponges, like corals, are built from animal colonies that may survive for thousands of years. Glass sponges are among the world’s longest-living sponges. According to NOAA, members of this species are frequently discovered in the deep ocean and have skeletons that resemble glass, thus their name. According to a 2012 study published in the journal Chemical Geology, a glass sponge belonging to Monorhaphis chuni was about 11,000 years old. Other sponge species may be able to exist for much more extended periods.
Turritopsis dohrnii is known as the eternal jellyfish because it can live indefinitely. Jellyfish begin life as larvae before settling on the seabed and developing into polyps. These longest living animal and particularly polyps subsequently give rise to free-swimming medusas, often known as jellyfish. According to the American Museum of Natural History, mature Turritopsis dohrnii can convert back into polyps if they are physically injured or starved and return to their jellyfish condition.
According to the Natural History Museum in London, the jellyfish, endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, may repeat this feat of reversing their life cycle several times and never die of old age given the right conditions. However, turritopsis dohrnii are small – less than 0.2 inches (4.5 millimetres) wide. Mostly, creatures like fish eat them or they die via other causes. This prevents them from gaining immortality.
Hydras are tiny invertebrates with soft bodies that resemble jellyfish. They, like Turritopsis dohrnii, can live indefinitely. Hydras do not display symptoms of deteriorating with age. These longest living animal invertebrates primarily have stem cells, which renew indefinitely by duplication or cloning. Hydras do not live forever under standard settings due to dangers such as predators and illness, but they may be immortal if these external threats die out.
Macaws are members of the parrot family, distinguished by their vividly coloured feathers. They have a long life and may live 60 to 80 years old in the appropriate habitat. They live in the jungles and eat a variety of nuts and seeds. Unfortunately, due to habitat destruction and the illicit pet trade, most of these magnificent birds have become rare, and a few are now extinct.
African Elephants are the longest living animals and land mammals and one of the oldest, with an average lifetime of 70 years. Experts can identify a person’s age based on numerous features such as their size and number of teeth. However, it’s a technique that needs keen observation and a lot of practice!
Females reach breeding age at 10-12 years old and can be fertile for the remainder of their lives, unlike us. As a result, they might have up to 7 babies in all. Being a mummy elephant, on the other hand, is an onerous duty. Their pregnancy lasts 22 months, which is over three times the length of a human pregnancy!
Longfin eels may live for up to 60 years, but the highest recorded lifespan was 106! They are indigenous to New Zealand and Australia, where they spend most of their lives hidden in freshwater streams before travelling to the Pacific Ocean to reproduce. Longfin eels reproduce once in their lifespan and then die. They are slow-growing creatures, gaining just 1-2cm each year, yet females may reach 73–156 cm.
Galapagos Giant Tortoise
It’s not simply the size of the Galapagos Giant Tortoises that are noteworthy; it’s also their age. They may live to be far over 100 years old, with the oldest known to reach 152 years old! However, the oldest is not the most well-known. Lonesome George was the islands’ only remaining Pinta Island Tortoise and, for a time, the world’s rarest species. Unfortunately, he died in 2012, at the age of about 100. Like many of the species on our list, giant tortoises live a leisurely existence, grazing on grass and other plants, basking in the sun, and sleeping for up to 16 hours a day.
Red Sea Urchin
Red sea urchins are nearly eternal. They survive for over 200 years with no symptoms of ageing. They are considerably more likely to be eaten by a predator than to die of age-related disease. Also, a 100-year-old is as healthy and capable of reproducing as a young person. Experts can use radiocarbon dating to determine the age of these spiny echinoderms through carbon-14 levels.
Japanese Koi have an average lifespan of approximately 40 years, although they may live much longer if kept in the right conditions. For example, when one of the fish, named “Hanako,” died in 1977, she was 226 years old. By measuring growth rings on her scales, scientists were able to estimate her age.
Koi Hanako was the oldest koi fish at 226 years old. In Japan, Koi Hanako was a stunning scarlet-coloured female Higoi. Her given name, Hanako, translates to “flower girl” in Japanese. Hanako was born in the first year of Horeki, in the middle of Japan’s Tokugawa Era, in 1751. Hanako died on July 7, 1977, at the age of 226. Thus, Hanako is now not just the oldest koi but also the longest-living freshwater fish on record.
Tuatara is the sole remaining member of the Sphenodontia order, which flourished some 200 million years ago. They are, in essence, living fossils. Tuatara is also among the world’s longest-living vertebrates, with some individuals surviving for more than 100 years. Tuataras, exclusively found in New Zealand, achieve sexual maturity after 10 to 20 years and continue to develop until they are 35 to 40 years old.
Orcas are well-known for being among the most intelligent marine creatures in the ocean, but did you know they are also the longest-living? Some orcas surviving today are over 100 years old, and their familial ‘pod’ mindset is the key to their longevity.
Orcas live in prominent families known as pods, commanded by a matriarch. Because her progeny defend her throughout her life, this dominating female mammal tends to live the longest. For the past decade, researchers in the United States have been following a pod lead by ‘Granny,’ an elderly, robust matriarch believed to be 104 years old — and counting.
If they live in suitable conditions, they have an average lifetime of 50 to 70 years. They are most widespread in Australasian nations such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, the Solomon Islands, and Indonesia. If properly cared for, umbrella cockatoos can live to be 80 years old or longer. Cocky Bennett, an Australian sulfur-crested cockatoo, died at the age of 120 in 1916, outliving his owner, Captain Ellis, who died at 87.
It is a vesper bat species that exists in Europe and portions of Asia. The bat has a life expectancy that is almost double that of humans for its body size and is the oldest surviving bat. A bat recovered in a cave in Siberia in 2005 was at least 41 years old.
They are among the world’s most enormous birds. They may weigh up to 33 pounds and have a 10-foot wingspan. Andean Condors prefer to dwell in the highlands or near the sea, where they can catch a nice wind. They may survive in the wild for up to 50 years and in captivity for 80 years. The birds usually have one child each year, indicating that they breed slowly. Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Argentina all have national symbols of the Andean condor. They are, nevertheless, regarded as near endangered, owing primarily to habitat loss.
Planet Earth has seen many creatures that thrived in its bosom and lived for millions of years, per se the dinosaurs! The longest living animals have outspanned us too, in years and don’t seem to age. For them, age is just a number!!