When compared to various animal lifespans, the life of a human on Earth might be viewed as being relatively brief. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the average lifespan for humans is 72 years, although certain animals on the planet are immortal and may live for tens of thousands of years.
In an effort to understand the mysteries of why certain animals live so long, scientists are searching for answers with the goal of extending human life. A few of the creatures with the longest lifespans are listed below:
Since Turritopsis dohrnii may live eternally, they are sometimes known as immortal jellyfish. Jellyfish begin their lives as larvae, then settle on the seabed and develop into polyps. The result of these polyps is free-moving medusas or jellyfish.
According to the American Museum of Natural History(opens in new tab), mature Turritopsis dohrnii are unique in that they may transform back into polyps if they suffer physical harm or starvation and then subsequently return to their jellyfish stage.
According to the Natural History Museum(opens in new tab) in London, the jellyfish, which are endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, have the ability to repeatedly reverse their life cycle and may therefore never grow old given the appropriate circumstances.
Turritopsis dohrnii are quite little, measuring less than 0.2 inches (4.5 millimeters) wide, and they can either be eaten by fish or perish in other ways, which prevents them from genuinely being eternal.
It’s possible that you’ve never heard of a hydra, yet they are tiny invertebrates with soft bodies that resemble miniature jellyfish.
The fact that they are mostly formed of stem cells, which allow them to continually regenerate and clone, is one feature that distinguishes them from other organisms. They would be able to live eternally if it weren’t for predators and other dangers.
Mammals with the longest lifespans include bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus). According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(opens in new tab), the exact lifespan of Arctic and subarctic whales is unknown, but stone harpoon tips discovered in some harvested individuals prove that they can live comfortably for more than 100 years and may even live for more than 200 years (NOAA).
Macaws are members of the parrot family and may be identified by their brilliantly colored feathers. They have a lengthy lifetime and may survive for 60 to 80 years in the correct conditions.
They thrive in rainforests and eat a variety of nuts and seeds. However, because to habitat destruction and the illicit pet trade, the majority of these lovely birds are endangered in the wild, and some of them have already gone extinct.
A Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) has a minimum life expectancy of 272 years and a maximum recorded age of 392 years, according to a research using eye lens radiocarbon testing. 2 The Greenland shark is the longest-living animal known to man, according to the study’s authors.
This shark is almost extinct according to the IUCN, primarily because of overfishing. 3 The Arctic and North Atlantic seas, at depths ranging from 4,000 to more than 7,000 feet, are home to the Greenland shark. At maturity, it grows slowly to a length of eight to fourteen feet. It forages for food and consumes various fish and birds.
These elephants may be found in India, Pakistan, Laos, Nepal, and Thailand, all Asian nations. The second-largest animal among elephants is this one.
The animal may reach a height of 3.5 m and a weight of 5 tons. Except for humans, who have traditionally utilized Indian elephants as a labor force, adults have no natural adversaries. Elephants in the wild only live 60 to 70 years, however domesticated animals kept in good conditions can live up to 80 years.
Some of the fish’s oldest fossils, which are still extant now, stretch back 200 million years. There are more than 27 species of sturgeon in the globe, and two are indigenous to California. The bony features and shark-like morphology of these fish set them apart from other fish.
Freshwater pearl mussels
Bivalves called freshwater pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera) filter food particles from the water. They are widespread in North America, including the U.S. and Canada, and mostly inhabit rivers and streams.
According to the World Wildlife Fund(opens in new tab), the oldest freshwater pearl mussel was 280 years old (WWF). The slow metabolism of these invertebrates contributes to their extended lifespans.
Pearl mussels found in freshwater are a threatened species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (opens in new tab) reports that a number of human-related issues, including as harm and modifications to the river ecosystems they rely on, are causing their numbers to decline (IUCN).
The most prevalent of the six flamingo species are the greater flamingos. Due to predators, they only live an average of 35 years in the wild; but, in captivity, they survive considerably longer. The oldest one was known as Greater and lived in the Adelaide Zoo until she was 83 years old.
Japanese koi may live much longer if they are given the proper care, with an average lifespan of about 40 years. When one specific koi, “Hanako,” passed away in 1977, she was an amazing 226 years old. By measuring the growth rings on her scales, researchers were able to determine her age.
Antarctic sponges, of which there are more than 300, reside between 325 and 6,500 feet underwater in extremely chilly conditions, which is to blame for their lengthy lifespans. 14 Their development rate and other biological processes are slowed by this harsh environment, giving them a remarkable lifespan.
Anoxycalyx joubini, an Antarctic sponge species, was estimated to have a potential lifespan of 15,000 years in a 2002 research. 15 The Cinachyra antarctica, which does not dwell as deeply underwater as the Anoxycalyx joubini, was found to have a lifespan of up to 1,550 years, according to the same study.
One of the creatures that has lived on Earth for more than 200 million years is the tuatara. The tiny New Zealand islands are home to the tuatara, which grows very slowly. This little mammal exclusively lives throughout the night.
The lizard has a lifespan of up to 60 years, but in captivity, it can live for over 100 years and grow to a length of 76 cm. The animal represents the beak-headed order and is now the only living member of that order. The reptile looks like a big iguana from the outside.
The “third eye” that the lizard has on its head gives it its distinctive appearance, however it is covered in scales as an adult.
In the chilly, stable habitat of the deep sea, tubeworms, an invertebrate species, may live for a very long time. Escarpia laminata, a type of tubeworm found on the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico, usually lives up to 200 years, and some individuals survive for more than 300 years, according to a 2017 study that was published in the journal The Science of Nature(opens in new tab).
Tubeworms have evolved to have such long lifespans because they face minimal natural risks, such as a lack of predators, and a low mortality rate.
Red Sea Urchin
Red sea urchins are said to be nearly indestructible and have been seen to survive for over 200 years without showing any symptoms of aging.
A 100-year-old person is just as healthy and capable of reproducing as a young person, yet they are much more likely to be eaten by a predator than to pass away from an age-related ailment. Radiocarbon dating, which measures the amounts of carbon-14, may be used to determine the age of these spiny echinoderms.
21 different species of cockatoo exist. Pink, White, and Yellow-Cheeked Cockatoos are a few of the most well-known varieties. Tropical places like Australia, Tasmania, and the Philippine Islands are home to them.
One of the longest-living vertebrate species on Earth, tortoises (Testudinidae) have an average lifetime of 177 years. 11 Harriet, a Galápagos tortoise that passed away from heart failure in 2006 at the age of 175 years, was one of their oldest known members.
The sole surviving survivor of Darwin’s legendary journey aboard the HMS Beagle, Harriet resided at a zoo run by the late Steve Irwin.
The oldest known living land animal was Jonathan, a 187-year-old Seychelles tortoise, who entered the Guinness World Records in 2022.
One of the biggest fish in existence is the rougheye rockfish. It has a minimum lifespan of 205 years. The Pacific Ocean, which stretches from California to Japan, is home to this pale pinkish-brown fish.
It has a maximum length of 38 inches. Additionally, this species’ risk of extinction has escalated, prompting the launch of several initiatives.
The Gray Whale is a large animal that weighs around 40 tons, or about 60 cows. When fully mature, they may reach lengths of 40–50 feet; at birth, they are 15 feet long. To mate, they travel from the Arctic Ocean to the lagoons of Baja California over 5,000 miles each October.
Normally, longfin eels live up to 60 years, but the oldest one ever recorded lived to be 106! Before moving to the Pacific Ocean to reproduce, they spend the most of their existence hidden in freshwater streams where they are endemic to New Zealand and Australia. They only reproduce once in their lifespan and then perish.
Although they develop extremely slowly—only 1-2 cm each year—females eventually reach an astonishing length of 73–156 cm.
This particular enormous tubeworm, a kind of marine annelid (earthworm), dwells close to hydrocarbons that leak from the bottom. It may grow to a length of more than three meters, and it can survive for more than 250 years.
The world’s biggest living reptiles are crocodiles like this. Males up to 2,900 pounds in weight and 20 feet long have been found. They may be found residing in rivers and coastal areas where they can move between freshwater and saltwater by swimming.
Corals (opens in new tab) resemble vibrant underwater rocks and plants, but they are really formed of invertebrate polyps, which have exoskeletons.
By repeatedly reproducing and replacing themselves by making a genetically identical replica, these polyps help the coral exoskeleton structure to expand over time. The longevity of a coral is consequently more of a team effort because corals are composed of several similar individuals as opposed to being a single organism, like Greenland sharks or ocean quahog clams.
Even though corals may live for hundreds of years or more, deep-water black corals (Leiopathes sp.) are among the species with the longest lifespans. Black coral specimens discovered off the coast of Hawaii have been estimated to be 4,265 years old, according to a recent story by Live Science(opens in new tab).
The Cave Salamander
Salamanders are among the longest-living terrestrial creatures, despite popular belief. Scientists think it is caused by their slow metabolism. They only lay eggs every 12 years, require 15 years to reach maturity, and scarcely ever move other than to feed.
The biggest surviving land mammal and one of the oldest, African elephants have an average lifetime of 70 years. The size and quantity of teeth are only two features that experts can use to determine age.
It’s a procedure that needs a lot of practice and good observational abilities! Around 10 to 12 years old is when females begin to reproduce, and unlike us, they may continue to be fertile throughout the remainder of their lives. They might have a total of seven children.
However, being an elephant mommy is not an easy job. They have 22-month pregnancies, which is nearly three times as long as human pregnancies.
The frigid climate in which the American lobster dwells contributes to its longevity. Since they frequently inhabit the chilly waters of the Atlantic Ocean, their metabolism is slowed, allowing them to mature more slowly and live longer.
It has been shown that these large saltwater clams may live for more than 165 years.
Averaging more than an inch every year for the first four years of life, geoducks (Panopea generosa) develop rapidly throughout this time. Geoducks have lengthy “necks” or siphons that can reach lengths of more than three feet, yet their shells are usually no more than eight inches.
Native to the Pacific Northwest, geoducks may be found from Alaska to California.
Giants Galapagos Tortoise
With an average lifespan of 200 years, giant Galapagos tortoises are the vertebrates with the longest lifespan and are native to the well-known Galapagos Islands archipelago. They have long been regarded as among the longest-living animals on Earth.
At the age of 255, Adwaita, a male tortoise from Kolkata’s Alipore Zoological Gardens, passed away in 2006. Wheat bran, carrots, lettuce, soaking gram (chickpea), bread, grass, and salt made up his diet. This male Algebra species tortoise, which can weigh up to 250 kg, is claimed to have been a gift to Lord Clive, who established the British Empire in India. These tortoises may live up to 150–250 years on average.
There is no denying that these creatures are gorgeous given their white and black coloring. From the equator to the poles, they may be observed swimming in the majority of the world’s waters. They often eat fish as well as seals, penguins, and other marine animals. Humans are their main predators.