Marine Scientists have claimed the discovery of a female Greenland Shark, Somniosus microcephalus, that has been sprawling the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans for decades.
The discovery published in a Science Journal said the predator can enter Guinness book of records as the planet’s longest-living vertebrate, with a lifespan reaching about 400 years.
Scientists studied 28 grey sharks and were able to determine the vertebrate’s ages by using a radiocarbon dating to analyse the sharks’ eye lens. They found that the oldest which is a female shark, was likely about 392 years old, with 95 percent certainty of an age range between 272 and 512 years.
Researchers described that when an organism grows, the radiocarbon that is in the atmosphere is recorded in its tissues. So if scientists can match the radiocarbon levels in the animal with a certain period of time, they can figure out when that animal was born.
Lead researcher and marine biologist, Julius Nielsen, from the University of Copenhagen, said he understood they were dealing with an unusual animal.
“This species is completely overlooked, and only a few scientists in the world are working with this species.”
“Our findings show that even though the uncertainty is great, they should be considered the oldest vertebrate animal in the world.”
It had been on record until now, that the longest-known lifespan vertebrate was the bowhead whale, topping 200 years.
Greenland or grey sharks have plump elongated body, round nose, relatively small dorsal fin, sandpaper-like skin and gray or blackish-brown coloration. They are nearly blind – which might explain why they are slow swimmers , but are strong predators, eating fish, marine mammals and carrion.
The marine creature measures 42 centimetres and grows at a rate of 1 centimetre each year. The largest sharks was discovered to measure over 16 feet long, while female sharks reach sexual maturity at 150th birthday.
Besides residing in locations such as eastern Canada to western Russia, marine scientists said they can also be found in deep seas, where water temperatures are below about 5 Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit). They have been observed in depths down to 1.4 miles (2.2 km).
Nevertheless, doubts still remains that this species of sharks could be much older or even much younger than the recorded age.