Oldest living shark, born in 1500s, discovered in North Atlantic Ocean

Gwen Vasquez
December 16, 2017

The ice-filled water of the Arctic region houses the giant Greenland shark which might be the oldest surviving vertebrate in the globe as of now.

With the found eye tissues, the scientists have measured a range of age for Greenland sharks that is minimum 272 years old, and up to 512 years old; they also mentioned that the most likely average life span was 390 years. Numerous claims suggest that the shark is up to 512-years-old.

Experts used its length - a staggering 18ft - and radiocarbon dating to determine its age as between 272 and 512, according to a study in journal Science. Meet the Greenland Shark, a massive creature that lurks beneath the chilling waters of the sub-Arctic ocean.

It was the oldest of a group of 28 Greenland sharks analysed for the study. But with the new study, it seems that these sharks can live even longer.

And while exact ages are hard to pin down, the shark does appear to grow very, very old.

Normally, Greenland sharks have an estimated lifespan of 400 years, and hence, they have the longest known lifespan of any vertebrate species of the world.

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"Fish biologists have tried to determine the age and longevity of Greenland sharks for decades, but without success". The sharks are known to eat polar bear carcasses and are often attacked by parasites which latch onto their eyes.

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Professor Kim Praebel, who is leading the hunt, said the sharks were "living time capsules" that could help shed light on human impact on the oceans.

This undated photo made available by Julius Nielsen in 2016 shows a Greenland shark swimming away from a boat and returning to the deep and cold waters of the Uummannaq Fjord in northwestern Greenland.

"The longest living vertebrate species on the planet has formed several populations in the Atlantic Ocean", said Prof Praebel, who was speaking at the University of Exeter at a symposium organised by the Fisheries Society of the British Isles. "Together with colleagues in Demark, Greenland, USA, and China, we are now sequencing its whole nuclear genome which will help us discover why the Greenland shark not only lives longer than other shark species but other vertebrates".

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