Scientists were absolutely floored by the discovery of a shark that may have been 49 years old when William Shakespeare was born.
Scientists have just found what may be the oldest living vertebrate after discovering a Greenland shark in the North Atlantic that is an estimated 512 years old. That is a truly staggering age that would mean the shark was almost 50 years old before William Shakespeare was even born.
Scientists measure the age of Greenland sharks – which are well know for their extreme lifespans – by measuring their size, as they tend to grow by about a centimeter per year. Greenland sharks grow to be quite large and eat mostly fish, although they have never actually been observed hunting. Based on its 18-foot length, scientists think this shark was born all the way back in 1505.
Scientists analyzed a total of 28 Greenland sharks, and this one came in as the clear winner in terms of age. Greenland sharks typically have a life span of 400 years, so this is certainly quite an achievement for the species.
“While the more than 5 meter long Greenland shark is one of the world’s largest sharks, it is also one of the least understood animals on our planet,” reads a statement from the University of Copenhagen in 2016 on the shark. “The Greenland shark’s general biology and way of life have been a mystery to biologists for many years. However, marine biologists at the University of Copenhagen have now deployed an epoch-making method to unveil one of the greatest of the mysteries surrounding this enigmatic shark – and have come to an amazing revelation: with a life expectancy of at least 272 years, the Greenland shark has the longest life expectancy of all vertebrate animals known to science.”