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Ancient Shark Is Said To Be The World’s Oldest Living Vertebrate At 512 Years Old.

A Greenland Shark has been found in the North Atlantic Ocean and is thought to have been born as early as 1502.

Scientists have used its size to suggest that the year of its birth is as early as 1505 – marking it as older than Shakespeare.

They have used the shark’s length – a whopping 18ft – and radiocarbon dating to figure out its age, which they believe to be between 272 and 512 years old.

 A Greenland shark is caught by fishermen. One of a group of 28 analysed by scientists is believed to be up to 512 years old (file picture)

It was the oldest of a group of 28 Greenland sharks analysed for the study.

The shark would have been alive during major world events such as: the founding of the United States, the Napoleonic wars and the sinking of the Titanic.

The shark mostly eats fish, but they have never been examined hunting. However, they have been known to have had remains of reindeer and horse in their stomachs.

 Greenland sharks are known for their longevity, living for hundreds of years (file picture)

The flesh of a Greenland Shark is considered a delicacy in Iceland – however, it is also toxic if it not treated.

A separate study of its bones and tissues by the Arctic University of Norway has also provided clues about the effects of climate change and pollution over a long time span.

The researchers have already mapped out all of the 16ft shark’s mitochondrial DNA – genetic material held in tiny battery-like bodies in cells that supply energy.

 An 18ft Greenland shark was estimated to be as old as 512 (file picture)

Now they are working on DNA from the cell nucleus, which contains the bulk of the animal’s genes.

‘Long life’ genes could provide scientists with the reason that the sharks have such a large lifespan – and this could also help with studies around the lifespan of humans.

The Strange and Gruesome Story of the Greenland Shark, the Longest-Living  Vertebrate on Earth | The New Yorker

Professor Kim Praebel, who led the hunt, said the sharks were “living time capsules.”

“The longest living vertebrate species on the planet has formed several populations in the Atlantic Ocean,” said Prof Praebel.

“This is important to know so that we can develop appropriate conservation actions for this important species.”

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Hannah Conway

Written by Hannah Conway

I'm Hannah, a Trainee Digital Journalist for Kingdoms. I am due to graduate from Teesside University in June 2021 with a BA in Journalism and have joined Kingdoms to complete an Internship alongside my studies. I have worked in many areas of the media world for the past three years: a Broadcast Journalist, Sports Journalist, PR Assistant and now I am taking a journey to write about the animals in our wonderful world and the fantastic things that they get up to.

I am an animal enthusiast, and I have grown up around all kinds of species - I even have my own little four-legged friend, an eight-month-old Cockerpoo called Chester. The aim is to provide readers with engaging stories about 'all things animals' in our beautiful world, and I hope to keep you engaged with the content that Kingdoms has to offer.

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