Detailed Findings & Methodology
There doesn’t seem to be one particular type of animal that dominates the list of the longest living animals. There are 11 different classes, including reptiles, mammals, fish, and birds — and size doesn’t appear to be a factor on how long animals live. The largest animal on Earth, the blue whale, can live to be up to 110 years. Similarly, weighing less than an ounce, the blind cave salamanders known as olms can also live as long as 102 years.
It’s important to remember that the age figures on this list are the maximum recorded lifespan, which don’t always come close to reflecting the average lifespan of that species. For instance, the oldest human ever recorded lived to be 122 years old. But the average human lifespan is several decades lower. Similarly, the European Pond Turtle typically lives to be 40 to 60 years old. The oldest European Pond Turtle on record lived to be 120.
There are more creatures that live underwater than terrestrial ones among the longest-living animals. About three-fourths of the 50 species on the list are either fish or mammals like whales that live in the ocean. That’s all the more significant considering that an estimated 80% of Earth’s species live on land, compared with just 15% that live in the ocean, and 5% in freshwater.
Though AnAge is a thoroughly researched and curated database, there’s no way to know exactly which of the oldest living animals were never recorded or found by humans before they died. There could always be an outlier from some common animal species that has lived for more than a century. It’s also possible there are entirely undiscovered species that would also make the list — if we knew of their existence. Scientists haven’t even been able to settle on a solid range of how many species there are on Earth. Some have suggested the total number is somewhere around 8.7 million, whereas other estimates go as high as 1 trillion if you include microbes.
To identify the longest living animals in the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed animal aging and longevity data from AnAge, a curated database on animal history, genomes, and longevity records. The longest-living animals were identified by examining their maximum longevity, supplemented by our analysis of specimen, kingdom, and genus. Only organisms from the kingdom Animalia were included. Animals from the phylum Porifera, such as sponges, were also excluded. Only animals considered to have an acceptable data quality or higher by AnAge were included.
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