Scientists Discover Oldest Living Vertebrate on the Planet: A 512-Year-Old Greenland Shark
Scientists have discovered a Greenland shark in the North Atlantic that is estimated to be over 500 years old, making it the oldest known vertebrate on the planet.
The shark, which measures at least 18 feet in length, was caught by researchers who were studying the species in the waters off the coast of Greenland. After examining the shark's eye tissue, scientists determined that the animal is likely to have been born around 1505, making it over 512 years old.
Greenland sharks are known for their slow growth rate and long lifespans, but this discovery has shattered all previous records for vertebrate longevity. Previously, the oldest known vertebrate was a bowhead whale that was estimated to be around 211 years old.
The discovery of this ancient shark has provided scientists with a rare opportunity to study the biology of an animal that has lived through centuries of environmental change. It is possible that this shark was swimming in the waters of the North Atlantic before Christopher Columbus made his first voyage to the Americas.
Despite its age, the shark is still able to reproduce, but scientists believe that it is likely to be one of the last of its kind. Greenland sharks are classified as a "near threatened" species, and their populations are declining due to overfishing and climate change.
The discovery of this ancient shark highlights the need for continued efforts to protect and conserve marine species, particularly those that are vulnerable to extinction. With further research, scientists hope to unlock the secrets of this elusive and enigmatic creature, and to gain a better understanding of the history and ecology of our planet's oceans.
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