Scientists Have Discovered A Greenland Shark That Was Probably Born In The Year 1620

Scientists Have Discovered A Greenland Shark That Was Probably Born In The Year 1620

Scientists have discovered the longest-living vertebrates on the earth- Greenland Sharks. Scientists and researchers used radiocarbon dating techniques to determine the age of 28 Greenland sharks. They used the eye proteins of sharks for a sample and estimated the age of one female shark which was 400 years old, likely to be born around the year 1620.

As per the earlier records of vertebrates, a bowhead whale is estimated to be 211 years old. As a lead author, Julius Nielsen, a marine biologist from the University of Copenhagen stated that he and his team were going to see a usually large animal, but everyone doing this research was surprised when they came to know that the sharks are even older than them and may be the oldest vertebrates.

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Scientists Have Discovered A Greenland Shark That Was Probably Born In The Year 1620

Greenland Sharks are enormous and can grow up to 5 meters in length. Yet, they grow only 1 centimeter a year. They can be found under the deep water of the North Atlantic, swimming slowly. The team believes that these animals only reach sexual maturity when they are 4 meters long. With this very lengthy age range, it can be said that this does not occur until the animals are about 150 years old.

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The researchers also stated that this research was made possible due to the atmospheric thermonuclear weapons tests that were conducted in 1960. These tests released massive amounts of radiocarbon which was later absorbed by the organisms in the ocean ecosystem.
The study authors explained that the Sharks that showed evidence of elevated radiocarbon in the nucleus of their eye tissue were therefore born after the bomb test and hence younger than 50 years, while the Sharks with lower radiocarbon levels were born prior to that, and hence 50 years old and older.

Scientists Have Discovered A Greenland Shark That Was Probably Born In The Year 1620

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According to the final results of the analysis, the sharks were at least 272 years old and could be as much as 512 years old and this result probably has a rate of about 95%. According to Neilsen, the most likely average life span is about 390 years.

Their longevity is attributed to their slow metabolism and the extremely cold water in which they inhabit. Greenland Sharks swim across the Arctic and North Atlantic at such a sluggish pace that has given them the title “sleeper sharks”.

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