A Danish scientist made an impressive discovery while searching the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. He stumbled upon an ancient-looking predator, measuring around 18 feet long and sporting a fierce look. After performing a quick study on it, he established the creature might be the oldest vertebrate in the world that’s still alive. This creature was a Greenland shark, and the scientist assumed it must be 512 years old.
The Greenland shark turned out to be the oldest vertebrate in the world
Julius Nielsen was traveling across the North Atlantic Ocean in search for mysterious creatures, when he finally found what he was looking for. He noticed a shark that looked like nothing he had seen before. A first glance of the animal revealed it was a Greenland shark, but it still had something unusual which left Nielsen pondering on the age of the creature.
This species of sharks grows at a slow rate, earning one extra centimeter per year. However, the animal measured about 18 feet in length, which meant one thing. The shark was 512 years old, meaning that it must have been born in 1505. This is remarkable, making it the oldest vertebrate in the world.
Greenland sharks grow one centimeter per year
Greenland sharks appear to be quite long-lasting. Nielsen, together with a team of researchers, decided to see how long these creatures live by performing carbon dating on the eye lenses of a series of other Greenland sharks. The oldest of these creatures discovered before was 392 years old.
These creatures are truly remarkable, as they are among the few that can survive for so many centuries. However, they have some kind of special state which makes it easy for them to escape death. The creature is regarded as a delicacy in Iceland, but its flesh is slightly toxic. Once consumed, it gives a sensation of intoxication. Also, it doesn’t appear often near the coast, so it’s quite a rare sight.
In exactly 1 hr and 7 minutes a satellite tag will pop-off from this Greenland shark female, it will float to the surface and establish contact with an Argos satellite. It will then transmit information on position as well as occupied temperatures the past 3 months. By tomorrow morning I will hopefully have the data which just can make it into my PhD before ending in four weeks. All of this (except handing in PhD in four weeks) will however only happen IF 1) the shark is not under sea ice (which would inhibit satellite transmission), 2) the sea is not too rough where the shark is which could lead to that the tag cap can’t be exposed properly in the air or 3) that the shark has not been deeper than 2,000 m which would have crushed the tag and destroyd it…. it also requires that there is no annoying animal eating the tag before we get the data which happened to us on a previous deployment. FINGERS CROSSED🤞🏻#greenlandsharkproject Photo credit: Takuji Noda 📸
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons