A type of shark has been discovered to have incredible longevity, according to a recent article in the prestigious journal Science. Using a novel dating technique that works by examining the shark’s eye lenses, scientists determined that the creature was perhaps more than 400 years old. This female gray shark from Greenland is believed to be the oldest living animal that has a vertebral column, beating the next oldest, a bowhead whale, by almost 200 years.
There is no mention of the age of a male, but if there is a human parallel, the male shark might have only lived to 350. The scientists were able to date the smaller Greenland sharks to the 1960s, when their eye lenses became exposed to radiocarbon “bomb pulse” from nuclear weapons testing in that decade. Using the size and slow growth rate of these younger sharks the scientists were able to extrapolate the ages of the older, larger sharks. The oldest one is reportedly 392 plus or minus 120 years.