A 400-Year-Old Shark Found In The Arctic Could Be The Oldest Vertebrate On Earth

A 400-Year-Old Shark Found In The Arctic Could Be The Oldest Vertebrate On Earth

The massive shark, which would have reached sexual maturity at around 150 years, is believed to be the world's oldest vertebrate.

People say that we have no idea what lies beneath the depth of the ocean and guess, they are absolutely true. A group of scientists has now possibly found Earth’s oldest vertebrate, which is a Greenland shark living in the ice-cold waters of the Arctic Ocean, reported PEOPLE.     


The research published in Journal Science noted that these sharks are famous to live in ice-cold temperatures, most comfortable in -1 degrees celsius and they can swim up to 7,200 feet and weigh more than a tonne. A report by Associated Press mentions that the recently deceased Greenland shark was around 400 years old at the time of death. The team also found that these sharks reach the age of sexual maturity only at the age of 150 years.  


According to a report by BBC, lead author Julius Nielsen, a marine biologist from the University of Copenhagen said, "We had our expectations that we were dealing with an unusual animal, but I think everyone doing this research was very surprised to learn the sharks were as old as they were.” In order to determine how old these sharks are, each of the vertebrate's eye-tissues was examined. After using the technique, it was estimated that out of the 28 sharks, eight of the sharks were 200 or older, several were above 300 years old, and the recently deceased shark was 400 years. 



At present, the Greenland sharks are known to be the oldest living vertebrae. The previous record belonged to a 210-year-old Bowhead Whale. Greenland sharks are majestic animals and they are primarily found swimming leisurely in the cold water of the icy Arctic Ocean. According to research, one of the reasons why Greenland sharks live this long might be because of the sluggish growth rate, while others suggest it could be a genetic thing.   


While the oldest living Greenland shark is said to be around 400 years but there is a chance that could be an error margin of +120 or -120 years, and that can put this shark in an entirely different century. Nielsen added, "It’s an estimate. It’s not a determination. It is the best we can do.” 


Many decades ago, sharks' livers were once used for machine oil. As a result of which, their numbers dwindled greatly until a synthetic substitute was found. Nielsen explained, "When you evaluate the size distribution all over the North Atlantic, it is quite rare that you see sexually mature females, and quite rare that you find newborn pups or juveniles. It seems most are sub-adults. That makes sense: if you have had this very high fishing pressure, all the old animals - they are not there anymore. And there are not that many to give birth to new ones. There is, though, still a very large amount of 'teenagers', but it will take another 100 years for them to become sexually active." 


The Greenland shark is known as an apex predator and mostly eats fish like smaller sharks, skates, eels, herring, capelin, Arctic char, cod, rosefish,  sculpins, lumpfish, wolffish, and flounder. More surprising discoveries were made when remains of land animals like seals, polar bears, horses, moose, and an entire Reindeer body was found in their stomachs. The Greenland shark is known to be a scavenger and is attracted by the smell of rotting meat in the water. '


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