Tuesday, October 30, 2007

This is the World's Oldest Living Animal

Or at least it was until recently. Scientists from Bangor University in Wales dredged up this Arctica islandica clam off the north coast of Iceland. After sectioning the shell and counting annual growth rings under a microscope they dated the clam to between 405 and 410 years-old. This breaks the official record of 220 years held by another clam of the same species.

The researchers aren't sure why clams of this species live so long but hope to study and find out. They think it's likely there are some 600 year-old clams out there in the water.

And as far as killing the "world's oldest living animal":

"Its death is an unfortunate aspect of this work, but we hope to derive lots of information from it," said Al Wanamaker, a postdoctoral scientist on the university's Arctica team. "For our work it's a bonus, but it wasn't good for this particular animal."


Steve Bodio said...

What about those right-- or was it bowhead-- whales with the stone spear points?

Reid Farmer said...

It was a bowhead whale:


And one of its bones had fragments of a type of whaling lance in use only from 1885-95.

I have heard apocryphal stories for years about old snapping turtles in the South that had musket balls or stone arrowheads embedded in their shells.

mdmnm said...

I'm all for science. For that matter, it is a mollusk, not famously self-aware like a whale, but the idea of cracking that clam and then determining that it was doing its thing around the time Jamestown was founded, that would be a little spooky and just downright sad.

comatus said...

Good eating though, if you fix them right.

Calombo, Quilombo, Colombo. said...

"Al Wanamaker", cool name!