Scientists Discover 400-Year-Old Greenland Shark Likely Born Around 1620

The Greenland shark is currently the longest-living vertebrate known on Earth, according to scientists.


Image credit: Dive Magazine

The ages of 28 Greenland sharks were determined using radiocarbon dating of eye proteins, revealing that one female shark was estimated to be about 400 years old. This makes it the longest-living vertebrate known on Earth, surpassing the previous record holder, a bowhead whale estimated to be 211 years old.

As Julius Nielsen, a marine biologist from the University of Copenhagen who was the lead author of the study, put it: “We had our expectations that we were dealing with an unusual animal, but I think everyone doing this research was very surprised to learn the sharks were as old as they were.”


Greenland sharks swim through the cold waters of the Arctic and the North Atlantic at such a sluggish pace that has earned them the nickname “sleeper sharks.” Image credit: Julius Nielsen

Greenland sharks are massive creatures, capable of reaching up to 5m in length, but they grow at a slow rate of only 1cm per year. They can be found, swimming slowly, in the cold depths of the North Atlantic.

According to the research team, these animals only reach sexual maturity when they reach 4m in length, which, based on their estimated age range of up to 400 years, would not occur until they are approximately 150 years old.


A newly tagged Greenland shark returns to the deep and cold waters of the Uummannaq Fjord in western Greenland. Image credit: Julius Nielsen

The study partly relied on radiocarbon levels in the eye tissue of the sharks, which was made possible by the large amounts of radiocarbon released into the ocean during atmospheric thermonuclear weapons tests in the 1960s. Sharks with higher radiocarbon levels in their eye tissue were determined to be less than 50 years old, while those with lower levels were estimated to be at least 50 years or older.

The researchers then drew up an estimated an age range for the older sharks based on their size, and on prior data about Greenland sharks’ size at birth and growth rates in fish.


A Greenland shark swimming near the ocean surface after its release from research vessel Sanna in northern Greenland. Image credit: Julius Nielsen

According to Nielsen, the analysis has a probability rate of around 95 percent and the sharks were determined to be at least 272 years old, but could be as much as 512 years old (!), with the most likely age being 390 years.

But why do Greenland sharks live so long?

The long lifespan of these animals is attributed to their extremely slow metabolism and the cold waters they inhabit. They move through the Arctic and North Atlantic waters at a very slow pace, earning them the nickname “sleeper sharks.” Despite having been found with seal parts in their stomachs, the sharks are so sluggish that experts believe they must have consumed the seals when they were either asleep or already dead.

The slower you go, the farther you will get.

Related Posts

Miracle Recovery: The incredible story of a starving dog’s recovery after consuming rainwater for months, along with his perseverance in the face of all challenges

EP is a cry of cruelty and difference, and develops a moving story of survival and death. Apow’s difficult situation was discovered by an unsuspecting plumber, who…

Sad Scene: Dog Chained Up Behind House with Bone Cancer Stirs Up Sorrow and Sympathy

On September 22, an urgent report reached the Global Welfare and Animal Rescue Project (GWARP) that left everyone deeply saddened and heartbroken. It was about an elderly…

Revealed: Max’s Essential Battleground Battle with a Giant Python, Surrendering All to Keep Bella Safe from the Deadly Coil

tгаɡedу aпd bravery collided oп a fatefυl day iп the deпse jυпgle, as a һeагt-reпdiпg cry pierced throυgh the stillпess. It was the cry of a coυrageoυs…

A strange 3ft long marine ‘dinosaur’ with hard armor was found washed up on the beach, surprising many people

A buck-toothed 3ft sea beast that looks not too far off a legless crocodile has been found beached in Virginia, US, by a man who has developed…

“Breaking free from chains: A skinny, starving dog’s inspiring transformation into a beloved companion after being rescued”

In the shadows of neglect, where the echoes of suffering often go unheard, a tale of liberation and redemption unfolded—a story that resonates with the indomitable spirit…

When Fido, an abandoned dog with an abnormally enormous tummy, was immediately saved by vets, he nearly broke down in tears on the hospital bed. This joyful moment warmed the hearts of millions of people

The story of the abandoned dog Fido, with an unusually large belly, almost bursting into tears on the hospital bed when promptly rescued by veterinarians, is a…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *