How long can a creature on Earth live? Animals living on the land, in the air, and in water can, under the right circumstances, live for many decades or even centuries.
The oldest-documented creature, a clam named Ming the Mollusk, lived for 507 years. Ming was born in 1499, seven years after Christopher Columbus first arrived in North America. We don’t know how much longer Ming would have lived if researchers trying to determine its age in 2006 had not opened the clam and in the process killed it. Ming’s fate is an example of an unfortunate encounter between people and animals — these are animals humans are driving to extinction.
To find the 50 longest living animals in the world, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data in the Human Ageing Genomic Resources database collection — specifically, the AnAge animal longevity database.
Cynthia Kenyon is a biochemist and geneticist working on unlocking the secrets of longevity. At a TED talk in Edinburgh, Scotland, eight years ago, she talked about aging. “There are some animals that don’t seem to age,” said Kenyon. “If you look at birds, which live a long time, cells from the birds tend to be more resistant to a lot of environmental stresses like high temperature, or hydrogen peroxide.”
About three-fourths of the 50 species on our list are either fish or mammals like whales that live in the ocean. Size doesn’t appear to be a factor in how long animals live. Salamanders called olms that weigh less than an ounce can live as long as 102 years. The largest animal on Earth, the blue whale, can live to be up to 110 years. Despite its size, the blue whale is not among the most dangerous mammals on Earth. These are the deadliest mammals in the world.
To identify the longest living animals in the world, 24/7 Tempo reviewed animal aging and longevity data from AnAge, a curated database on animal history, genomes, and longevity records, that is part of the Human Ageing Genomic Resources (HAGR) suite of databases. 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 excluded. Average adult weight of each organism that were not provided by AnAge were confirmed by a variety of internet sources. Only animals considered to have an acceptable data quality or higher by AnAge were included.