A 400-Year-Old Green Shark Named As The Longest-Lived Vertebrate Species On Earth

First Posted: Aug 13, 2016 03:50 AM EDT

Researchers named the green shark aged 400 years old as the longest living vertebrate on Earth. Its age was known using a radiocarbon dating.

The study was printed in the journal Science. It was led by researchers from the University of Copenhagen, according to BBC News.

Julius Nielsen , the lead author of the study and the marine biologist from the University of Copenhagen said that they had their expectations that they were dealing with an unusual animal, but he thinks everyone doing this research was very surprised to learn the sharks were as old as they were. He added that he encountered the sharks here for the first time and was fascinated that so little were known about such large sharks.

He stated that the shark's biology was mostly a mystery. He cited the example, their age was unknown but expected to be great. He further said that the extremely slow growth rates of these sharks---less than a centimeter per year---indicated they must live for many years.

The team used a radiocarbon dating to track the chronology of the eye lens. The nucleus of eye lens consists of the inert proteins. The carbon-dating of these proteins can identify how long ago the shark was born. The researchers then radiocarbon dating the eyes of 28 female sharks that were gathered in Greenland in between 2010 and 2013, according to ArsTechnica.

The results of the survey showed that the two largest sharks measure a little more than 16 feet, 2 inches and 16 feet, 5 inches were about 335 and 392 years old. It also indicated with further analysis that the lifespan of Greenland sharks was at least 400 years. Their sexual maturity could reach the age of 150, according to CNN.

The Greenland shark is also referred to as grey shark or gurry shark. It is closely related to the Pacific and southern sleeper sharks that can be found in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. It is among the biggest extant species of shark, which can grow to 6.4 m (21 feet) and 1,000 kg (2,200 lb.) up to 7.3 m (24 ft.) and over 1,400 kg (3,100 lb.).

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