400-year-old Greenland Shark is the longest-living vertebrate

Greenland Shark: the cold water predator can live up to 512 years | Photo: University of Copenhagen

The longest living vertebrate animal in the world is the Greenland shark.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen combined the apex predator's yearly growth rate with the carbon-14 dating of his eye lenses and concluded that the Greenland shark could live for more than 400 years.

"Because the center of the lens does not change from the time of a shark's birth, it allows the tissue's chemical composition to reveal a shark's age. We use well-established radiocarbon methods, but combine them in a new way," notes Julius Nielsen, Ph.D. student at University of Copenhagen's Department of Biology.

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