In what could be the oldest living vertebrate ever discovered, the Greenland shark measures at a shocking 18 feet long. Its age is determined by its length and is found to be the oldest in a group of 28 sharks that were analyzed in a study.
Caught in the North Atlantic Ocean, the lead author of the research from the University of Copenhagen, Julius Nielsen, discovered this shark alongside a team of marine biologists. Only known to grow one centimeter a year, this species has been known to live for hundreds of years now, some of which have been around for over 400 years now. To date, the oldest shark discovered was 392 years old. Studies by researchers reveal ‘centuries of longevity in the Greenland sharks’.
Considering this possibility, this particular shark could’ve been around during some of the world’s most significant events recorded. Coming out strong past the World Wars, the sinking of the Titanic, and even the founding of the United States, this shark has overcome and withstood some notable and remarkable times.
Living primarily off fish, this type of shark hasn’t been observed hunting, although the remains of horses, polar bears, moose, and reindeer have been traced before. Its exterior, which has been regarded as a delicacy in Iceland when properly treated, can be toxic, containing a chemical that will leave you feeling something quite like being drunk.
Leader researcher, Professor Kim Praebel, states that these sharks were ‘living time capsules’ that could help ‘shed light on human impact on the oceans.’ Previously, the oldest animal found was an Icelandic clam that’s known as an ocean quahog, recorded at 507 years old, which was eventually murdered by scientists themselves who were trying to determine its age.
This new discovery could provide vital information about the shark species, and is a fascinating revelation of the longevity of its kind. Nielsen stated: “It definitely tells us that this creature is extraordinary and it should be considered among the absolute oldest animals in the world,” further justifying its origins that can be traced and dated back to the time of dinosaurs.