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400-year-old Greenland Shark Longest-Living Vertebrate.

QNA

LONDON

Researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine the ages of 28 of the animals, and estimated that one female was about 400 years old.

The team found that the sharks grow at just 1cm a year, and reach maturity at about the age of 150, the BBC reported.

Lead author Julius Nielsen, a marine biologist from the University of Copenhagen, said: "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." The former vertebrate record-holder was a bowhead whale estimated to be 211 years old.

But if invertebrates are brought into the longevity competition, a 507-year-old clam called Ming holds the title of most aged animal.

Greenland sharks are huge beasts, that can grow up to 5m in length.

They can be found, swimming slowly, throughout the cold, deep waters of the North Atlantic.

The team looked at 28 sharks, most of which had died after being caught in fishing nets as by-catch.

Using this technique, they established that the largest shark - a 5m-long female - was extremely ancient.

Because radiocarbon dating does not produce exact dates, they believe that she could have been as "young" as 272 or as old as 512. But she was most likely somewhere in the middle, so about 400 years old.

It means she was born between the years of 1501 and 1744, but her most likely date of birth was in the 17th century.

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Publication:Qatar Tribune (Doha, Qatar)
Date:Aug 12, 2016
Words:267
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