In the ice cold oceans of the North Atlantic, an ancient Greenland shark has been discovered.
Greenland sharks have long made their home in the deep waters between Canada and Norway and, when discovered, they are often plagued by worm-like parasites that latch onto their eyes.
Their choice of food tends to be along the lines of rotting polar bear carcasses.
Although they are known to live a very long life, until now it’s never been clear just how long that life is.
Discovered a month ago, this particular Greenland shark is believed to be 512 years old, making it one of the oldest living vertebrate in the world, reports International Business Times.
Looks gentler than that head-butting shark we encountered the other day.
The shark’s possible age was revealed in the Science Journal:
Marine biologist Julius Nielsen found that an 18-foot Greenland shark his team had been studying was at least 272 years older and possibly as much as 512 years old. While the exact time of the discovery remains unknown, the news resurfaced as Neilsen completed his PhD thesis on Greenland sharks.
Earlier this year professor Kim Praebel, from the Arctic University of Norway, found that Greenland sharks could have a lifespan of up to 400 years.
With the help of a mathematical model that analyses the lens and the cornea that linked size with age, researchers found a way to predict age:
By measuring the size of the recent Greenland shark found, researchers suggest the animal could have been born as early as 1505, making it even older than Shakespeare. Greenland sharks grow at a rate of one centimeter [sic] a year, enabling scientists to determine their age by measuring their size.
Steven Campana, a shark expert from the University of Iceland, also said last year:
“Fish biologists have tried to determine the age and longevity of Greenland sharks for decades, but without success. Given that this shark is the apex predator (king of the food chain) in Arctic waters, it is almost unbelievable that we didn’t know whether the shark lives for 20 years, or for 1,000 years.”
While we are on the subject, in September, Nielsen shared a stomach-churning photo of the remains of a polar bear extracted from the stomach of another Greenland shark:
“And no, I don’t think the shark attacked the bear,’ Nielsen wrote. “It is much more likely a carcass found by the shark. Polar bear remnants in Greenland shark stomachs are extremely rare and polar bears are considered of no importance as food source for sharks in Greenland waters.”
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