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Scientists say they found a Greenland shark that may be as old as 512 years

File photo of Greenland shark.In the last couple minutes of the last dive of the field season we found the largest fish we have ever encountered with the ROV, a Greenland Shark.

The Greenland shark  grows 1 cm a year throughout its lifespan and by measuring a female of the species found in the North Atlantic recently, and using radiocarbon dating, scientists believe she may be as old as 512 years.  If accurate then the 18-foot-long vertebrate was born 25 years before the Church of England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and about the same amount of time before The Inca Civil War was fought.

It’s also 60 years before the birth of William Shakespeare.

A total of 28 sharks were analyzed for the particular study, conducted by a group of Danish scientists lead by Dr. Julius Nielsen, and published in Science.

Using radiocarbon dating and examining the sharks’ eye lens, the scientists said they believe the highest likelihood is that the 18-foot- long shark is 392 years old, give or take a decade.  Statistically they said there was a 95% certainty that she was born from between 272 and 512 years ago.  They believe the shark to be the oldest living vertebrate on the planet.

Greenland sharks can live up to 600 or more years and this is the oldest of the species on record.  On average, they reach maturity around 156 years of age.  A long time to have your kids at home, no?  Further, they can dive down to depths of 1-and-a-half kilometres and unlike other sharks, their meat is toxic to humans.

The 28 sharks were examined in their natural setting and were unharmed.  Greenland sharks are normally found in areas of the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic.



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Marcus Hondro
Marcus Hondro

Actor, writer, father, gadfly, ‘Nucks fan.

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