Sharks can live up to almost four centuries. Greenland sharks, which have life spans of up to 392 years, are thought to possess unique genes that could hold secrets to longevity.
Professor Kim Praebel, from the Arctic University of Norway and lead scientist in the hunt, said that sharks are the longest living vertebrate on the planet. He, along with his team of colleagues from Denmark, Greenland, USA and China, is now sequencing the nuclear genome that can help them figure why the Greenland shark species has a significantly longer life span than other vertebrates on Earth.
In a News.com.au report, it seems that the team has taken fin clippings from nearly 100 Greenland sharks, some of which are from individuals born in the 1750s. They were able to map out the DNA of the 16-foot sharks' DNA -- genetic material that held in tiny bodies that had similar functions to batteries.
They are working on studying the "long life" genes. It could later on shed light as to why most vertebrates have limited life span and what determines the longevity of their life, including the difference it makes in humans.
There is little that scientists know about the biology and genetics of the Greenland sharks, which live in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The longevity of their life span makes them "living time capsules" that scientists believe could help shed light into the impacts humans make on the oceans.
New York Post noted that Greenland sharks are especially important in the topic considering that many of them are so old. They actually pre-dated the industrial revolution as well as the introduction of large-scale commercial fishing. They have, however, already formed several populations in the Atlantic Ocean, and studying them is important in order to appropriate conservation actions for the species.