The Oldest Living Animal

With texts on the topic dating back to Aristotle, the lifespans of various animal species have long fascinated us humans.

Knowing when the world’s oldest creatures were born is key for understanding why some species survive longer than others.

Studying them may help scientists understand the biological, molecular, and genetic processes that cause aging. We may even learn how to prolong our own species’ existence by learning their tricks.

The world’s oldest animals include old pets, ancient sea dwellers, and a timeworn tortoise.

Greenland Shark

The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) has a minimum lifespan of 272 years, according to a study based on eye lens radiocarbon testing, with a maximum age of 392 years, according to the researchers.

The Greenland shark lives in Arctic and North Atlantic waters at depths of 4,000 to more than 7,000 feet. The IUCN classifies it as near-threatened due to overfishing.3

When it reaches maturity, it grows at a steady pace of eight to fourteen feet. It feeds on a range of fish and birds and scavanges for food.

Glass Sponge

Sponges, which are similar to corals in that they are made up of animal colonies, may live for thousands of years. The longest-lived sponges on the planet are glass sponges.

According to NOAA(opens in new tab), members of this category are often found in the deep ocean and have glass-like skeletons.

A glass sponge belonging to the species Monorhaphis chuni was estimated to be approximately 11,000 years old in a 2012 research published in the journal Chemical Geology(opens in new tab). Other sponge species could potentially survive much longer.

Oldest land animal

The oldest living land animal in the world is Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise. He will be 189 years old in 2021, having been born in 1832.

He is a long-time inhabitant of St Helena, a tiny South Atlantic island off the coast of the Seychelles.

The fact that Jonathan was completely developed (and thus at least 50 years old) when he landed on the island in 1882 has been used to calculate his age with accuracy.

Geoduck Clam

Over 165 years have passed since these huge saltwater clams were discovered.

In the first four years of their lives, geoducks (Panopea generosa) grow at a pace of more than an inch per year.

Geoducks may grow to be almost three feet long and no more than eight inches in diameter, with their lengthy “necks,” or siphons, distinguishing them.

From California to Alaska, geoducks are native to the Pacific Northwest.

African Elephant

With an average lifespan of 70 years, African elephants are the world’s largest living land animals. Several features, such as size and number of teeth, are used by experts to determine the age.

It takes a lot of practice to do this correctly! Females reach breeding age around the age of 10-12, and unlike us, they may remain fertile for the rest of their lives.

Around seven babies may be born to them. However, being a mummy elephant is challenging. Their pregnancy lasts nearly three times as long as a human pregnancy, at 22 months.

Bowhead Whale

The longest living creatures are bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus). According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, stone harpoon tips discovered in some harvested whales suggest that they may live up to 200 years, although the precise lifespan of arctic and subarctic whales is unknown.

The whales may be protected from cancer, which is a probable cause of mortality, thanks to mutations in a gene known as ERCC1, which aids in repairing damaged DNA.

PCNA, a different gene, has a section that has been duplicated as well. The duplication of this gene may help to slow aging by regulating cell growth and repair.


Tuatara are the only lizaradlike reptiles on Earth that still exist in spite of the fact that they flourished approximately 200 million years ago. They are among the longest-lived vertebrates, with some individuals living over 100 years.

Tuataras take 10 to 20 years to reach sexual maturity and may live to be 35 to 40 years old, only in New Zealand.


Macaws are members of the parrot family and are easily recognized by their brightly feathered plumage. They can live to be 60 to 80 years old if they are kept in the right environment. In the rainforest, they feed on a combination of nuts and seeds and may be found indoors.

Unfortunately, the majority of these lovely birds are endangered in the wild, and habitat degradation and illegal pet trade have already wiped out a few.

Rougheye Rockfish

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (opens in a new tab), roughheye rockfish (Sebastes aleutianus) have a maximum lifespan of at least 205 years. From California to Japan, these pink or brownish fish live in the Pacific Ocean.

According to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada(opens in new tab) (COSEWIC), an independent advisory panel that assesses the status of species threatened with extinction, they grow up to 38 inches (97 centimeters) long and eat other animals like shrimp and smaller fish.

Lamellibrachia Tube Worm

Tube worms (Lamellibrachia luymesi) have been known to live between 170 and 250 years and can be found along hydrocarbon cold seep vents on the ocean floor.

The Lamellibrachia is one of a kind among vent animals because it grows at a leisurely pace over the course of its life, reaching lengths of six feet and more. It’s found in the Gulf of Mexico basin and other parts of the Atlantic Ocean.

Longfin Eel

Longfin eels may live up to 60 years old, with the oldest being 106 years old, according to records. Before migrating to the Pacific Ocean to breed, they are indigenous to New Zealand and Australia, where they spend most of their lives hiding in freshwater streams.

They die after spawning and only reproduce once in their lifetime. These are extremely sluggish-growing creatures, with females reaching a length of 73–156 cm after growing only 1-2 cm per year.

Freshwater Pearl Mussel

Bivalves that filter particles of food from water are known as freshwater pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera). They can be found across Europe and North America, particularly in the United States, and prefer to reside in rivers and streams. Throughout the United States and Canada.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (opens in new tab), the oldest known freshwater pearl mussel was 280 years old. Because of their slow metabolism, these invertebrates have lengthy lifespans.

The freshwater pearl mussel is a threatened species. A number of human-related causes, including damage and alterations to the river habitats they depend on, are contributing to their population decline.

Red Sea Urchin

The red sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus) can survive for 100 to almost 200 years in shallow, occasionally rocky waters off the West Coast of North America and the northern coast of Japan.

It primarily stays from the low-tide line to 300 feet and avoids extremely wavy areas. Using its spines as stilts, it crawls along the ocean floor.

Turritopsis Dohrnii

The term “immortal jellyfish” refers to Turritopsis dohrnii, which has the potential to live forever. Before settling on the seafloor and growing into polyps, jellyfish begin life as larvae. Free-swimming medusas, or jellyfish, develop from these polyps.

According to the American Museum of Natural History (opens in new tab), mature Turritopsis dohrnii are unique in that they may revert back to polyps if they are physically harmed or starved.

According to the Natural History Museum(opens in new tab) in London, the jellyfish, which are native to the Mediterranean Sea, can repeat this miracle of reversing their life cycle multiple times and never die of old age under the right conditions.

Turritopsis dohrnii are tiny, barely reaching 0.2 inches (4.5 millimeters) in size, and other creatures devour them or perish naturally, preventing them from achieving immortality.

Galapagos Giant Tortoise

The age of the Galapagos Giant Tortoise is also noteworthy. The oldest known specimen was 152 years old! They may live to be almost 100. While this is true, the most well-known is not the oldest.

Lonesome George was the world’s rarest tortoise until his death in 2012, when he was the only surviving Pinta Island Tortoise on the islands. At the age of 100, he passed away in 2012.

Giant tortoises munch on grass and other plants, bask in the sun for up to 16 hours a day, and rest for up to 16 hours a day, as do many of the animals on our list.

Greendland Shark

The deep Arctic and North Atlantic oceans are home to Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus). They may grow to be 24 feet (7.3 meters) long and feed on a variety of different animals, including fish and marine mammals like seals, according to the St. In Canada, the Lawrence Shark Observatory(opens in a new tab).

Greenland shark eye tissue was studied in 2016, and the findings were published in the journal Science(opens in new tab). According to the research, these sharks may live up to 272 years. The sharks in that study were thought to be between 392 and 512 years old, according to Live Science(opens in new tab), which reported on the study before.

The age estimates were subject to debate, but the 272-year-old minimum estimate still makes these sharks the longest surviving vertebrates on Earth(opens in new tab).

Koi Fish

The ornamental domesticated variety of the common carp, koi (Cyprinus rubrofuscus), is an ornamental. The oldest known koi lived to be over 200 years old, with an average lifespan of 40 years.

Koi, which are found in the Caspian Sea’s fresh waters, may grow up to three feet long. North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia are all home to wild populations. Artificial rock pools and ornamental ponds both have koi.

Red Sea Urchin

Red sea urchins are thought to have almost limitless lifespans and may survive for up to 200 years without aging. A 100-year-old is as healthy and capable of reproducing as a youthful individual, and they are significantly more likely to be devoured by a predator than succumb to an age-related ailment.

The amount of carbon-14, a technique known as radiocarbon dating, may be used to determine the age of these spiny echinoderms.


In the cold, stable environment of the deep sea, tubeworms are invertebrates with long lifespans. Escarpia laminata, a tubeworm species that lives on the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico, reportedly lives up to 200 years and has been recorded to live up to 300 years, according to a 2017 study published in The Science of Nature(opens in new tab).

Tubeworms have a low mortality rate and have evolved to live for such long periods due to the absence of natural predators.

Ocean Quahog

The ocean quahog (Arctica islandica) lives for 200 years and is a bivalve mollusc.

We know that 100-year lifespans are common by counting the age marks produced in the quahog’s valves.

The ocean quahog has a large range, ranging from the east coast of North America to Iceland, the Shetland Islands, and Cadiz, Spain. The filter feeders subsist on tiny algae and burrow themselves into the seabed.


Hydra is a collection of tiny invertebrates with jellyfish-like bodies. Hydras, like Turritopsis dohrnii, may live forever as well.

Live Science(opens in new tab) previously reported that hydras don’t show signs of aging with age. Stem cells(opens in new tab) are a large component of these invertebrates, which continuously replicate via duplication or cloning.

In natural environments, hydras can only survive for a limited period due to threats like predators and illness, but they may be immortal if these external threats are removed.

Immortal Jellyfish

Can you picture living forever? Instead of dying as you reach old age, can you return to being a baby and begin again? This is the stuff of our daydreams. It’s all too true for the immortal jellyfish. These extraordinary creatures begin their lives as planula, which floats in the ocean for a few weeks.

Before becoming swimming medusa, they settle on the seafloor and become static polyps. So far, so typical. Immortally jellyfish, on the other hand, may revert to the polyp stage and begin anew if they are damaged or stressed by alterations in their habitat.

And if they get the opportunity, they can do it again and again. However, since they are eaten by other animals, many won’t.

Black Coral

Corals(opens in a new tab) are made up of the exoskeletons of invertebrates known as polyps, which look like colorful underwater rocks and plants.

These polyps grow in number and replace themselves by building a genetically identical replica of themselves, which causes the coral exoskeleton to expand in size over time.

Corals, like Greenland sharks and ocean quahog clams, are made up of numerous similar creatures, rather than being a single creature, which explains why their lifespan is more collective.

Deep-water black corals (Leiopathes sp.) are among the longest-lived corals, having survived for hundreds of years or more. Live Science(opens in new tab) previously reported that black coral samples discovered off the coast of Hawaii have been dated to be 4,265 years old.