Scientists Find a 400-Year-Old Greenland Shark That Was Born Around 1620.

Image credit:- Dive Magazine

According to scientists, Greenland sharks are the longest-living vertebrates on Earth.

Researchers used radiocarbon dating-of-eye proteins to determine the age of 28 Greenland sharks. It was estimated that one female was approximately 400 years old. A bowhead whale, estimated to have been 211 years old, held the former vertebrate record.

Julius Nielsen, a University of Copenhagen marine biologist, stated that the University of Copenhagen lead author. “We had our expectations that this was an unusual animal. But I think everyone involved in this research was surprised to discover the sharks were so old.”

Image credit:- Dive Magazine/Image credit to Julius Nielsen


Greenland sharks are slow swimmers that swim through the Arctic and North Atlantic waters at a glacial pace, earning them the nickname “sleeper Sharks.” 

Greenland sharks can reach up to 5 m in length and are massive. They only grow 1cm per year. They can swim slowly in the North Atlantic’s cold and deep waters.


According to the team, animals reach sexual maturity at 4m long. This new, extremely long age range suggests that sexual maturity does not occur before animals get about 150 years of age.

A Greenland shark newly tagged returns to the cold waters of Uummannaq Fjord, western Greenland. Image credit: Julius Nielsen

This research was partly made possible by atmospheric thermonuclear weapon tests conducted in the 1960s—these weapons released large amounts of radiocarbon, which were then absorbed into the ocean ecosystems. 

The study authors stated that sharks with elevated radiocarbon levels in their nucleus were born after the “bomb pulse” and were less than 50 years of age. Sharks with lower radiocarbon levels were born before that time and were either 50 years or older.


Based on the scientists’ previous data on Greenland sharks’ sizes at birth and growth rates in fish, they calculated the age range of older sharks.

After its release from Sanna, a research vessel in northern Greenland, a Greenland shark was released near the ocean’s surface. Image credit: Julius Nielsen

The analysis results, which have a probability rate of about 95 percent, showed that the sharks were at most 272 years of age and could even be as old as 512 years (! According to Nielsen, the average lifespan of sharks is 390 years.)

Why do Greenland sharks have such a long life expectancy?

Their slow metabolism and long life span are the main reasons for their longevity. They can swim slowly in the Arctic and North Atlantic waters, earning them the nickname “sleeper Sharks.” Experts have found parts of seals in their stomachs. However, the sharks move so slowly that experts believe the seals are either asleep or dead when they eat them.

You will travel further if you move slower.

Written by Malith92

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