Marine Biologists Discovered a 512-Year-Old Shark, Making it the Oldest Living Vertebrae in the World

A few months ago, researchers discovered a shark which they believed could be the oldest living vertebrate in the world, but only just recently that the researchers divulged its potential age.

The talked is about an 18-foot Greenland shark and was discovered in the North Atlantic Ocean by marine biologist Julius Nielsen and his team. Nielsen is the lead author of the research from the University of Copenhagen.

Professor Kim Praebel from the Arctic University of Norway discovered that Greenland sharks could live as long as around 400 years. The recent research confirms that these species could live even longer.

As Greenland shark eye structures give the best clues to how old they are, researchers found a way to accurately predict their age, thanks to a mathematical model which analyzes the lens and the cornea which links size to age.

Upon measuring the size of the shark and radiocarbon dating the eye lens, the scientists suggested that it could have been born as early as 1505, which means it could be older than Shakespeare.

With a potential age of 512 years, it was estimated to be at least 272 years older. Previous studies have concluded the species reach séxual maturity at about 150 years of age.

Also known as grey sharks, Greenland sharks are quite large and belong to the family Somniosidae which grow at a rate of one centimeter a year.

They can be found deep in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, from Canada to Norway. The sharks are known to feed on polar bear carcasses and are often attacked by parasites which latch onto their eyes.

Nielsen, who has finally completed his Ph.D. thesis concerning Greenland sharks, recently shared a photo of polar bear leftovers which were extracted from the stomach of the shark.

According to reports, the mammal’s longevity is still an unsolved mystery. However, the answer to this may have to do with the animal’s slow metabolism and their cold water habitat.