Try saying the title of this post 7-times fast. Even more amazing than the title are the sharks that inspired it. Scientists recently determined that the Greenland shark is the longest living vertebrate (i.e., animal with a backbone) in the world, replacing the previous record holder, the bowhead whale, which held the record at 211 years.
Scientists profiled 28 Greenland sharks and were astonished to find that 8 of them were 200 years or older. One giant female was AT LEAST 270 years young when she was caught, and researchers say she may well have been as old as 390. That’s older than George Washington, and dates back to the time when Rembrandt and Galileo walked the Earth. In other words, really, really old.
The sharks may have time on their side, but they certainly aren’t much on speed. Greenland sharks are slow. Scientists refer to them as “the tortoise of the undersea world,” and it’s easy to see why. Greenland sharks slug along at a speed of less than half a mile per hour. (Even a baby could outcrawl this shark!) This slow metabolism probably helps them live so long, as does the fact that they live in cold waters and can grow up to 15 feet (longer than a station wagon) which means they have few predators. They also don’t eat very much…maybe one or two big meals per year.
- If you could live this long, what would you do with your time?
- Imagine only eating once per year. How hungry would you be? What would you eat?