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400-year-old Greenland shark ‘longest-living vertebrate’

Amazing new research was just published this month (August 2016) in Science titled Eye lens radiocarbon reveals centuries of longevity in the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus).  

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The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus), an iconic species of the Arctic Seas, grows slowly and reaches >500 centimeters (cm) in total length, suggesting a life span well beyond those of other vertebrates. Radiocarbon dating of eye lens nuclei from 28 female Greenland sharks (81 to 502 cm in total length) revealed a life span of at least 272 years. Only the smallest sharks (220 cm or less) showed signs of the radiocarbon bomb pulse, a time marker of the early 1960s. The age ranges of prebomb sharks (reported as midpoint and extent of the 95.4% probability range) revealed the age at sexual maturity to be at least 156 ± 22 years, and the largest animal (502 cm) to be 392 ± 120 years old. Our results show that the Greenland shark is the longest-lived vertebrate known, and they raise concerns about species conservation.

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greenland shark publication
August Issue Science

The team believes the animals only reach sexual maturity when they are 4m-long. And with this new, very lengthy age-range, it suggests this does not occur until the animals are about 150 years old.

Source: 400-year-old Greenland shark ‘longest-living vertebrate’ – BBC News

Read about an epic megamouth encounter.

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