This Is the World's Longest-Living Animal

An effort to find the longest-living animal in the world depends to some extent on how the word “animal” is defined. For the purposes of this analysis, the universe has been restricted to mammals.

Based on several studies, the oldest living mammal in the world is the bowhead whale. It is also among the few mammals that live in the sea. The oldest living among the species can live to be almost 200 years old. One study, published by the Telegraph, puts the age of the longest-living bowhead whale at 268 years. The paper also points out that it is difficult for zoologists to set an exact age.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce recently released its own data on the bowhead whale. The researchers wrote:

According to scientists, this colossal year-round Arctic dweller may live 200-plus years. The bowhead’s lifespan may be the second-longest of all animals, topped only by the 500-year span of a North Atlantic clam called the ocean quahog.

The bowhead can as long as 65 feet and weigh as much as 100 tons. There are approximately 10,000. The NOAA reports that “the bowhead whale is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.”

One reason that the population of bowhead whales may not continue to shrink is that they can no longer be hunted for oil, meat and baleen. This is due to International Whaling Commission regulations, according to the World Wildlife Federation. However, these whales are still threatened by climate change, pollution and shipping traffic in the Arctic.

Click here to see the 50 longest-living animals in the world.