If you thought the Galapagos tortoises lived a long life, then you should take a look at these sharks. In the most recent study that was published in the journal, “Science,” the lifespan of Greenland sharks averages between 272 and 512 years.
Greenland sharks are most likely to live about 390 years. Whoa!
Studying the “Ancient” Sharks
A total of 28 females were caught recently and examined. Two of the largest sharks within the study we’re found to be between 335 and 392 years old.
Up until this study, it was believed that the Galapagos tortoises who have the average life span of 250 years were the longest living creatures, but this study changes everything.
One Greenland shark was caught and measured 16 years ago. When it was recently caught again, it had only grown 8 cm!
Determining the Age of the Greenland Shark
It’s difficult to figure out how old a shark really is. This is especially true of the Greenland shark which basically can’t be age-determined using conventional methods.
The age of other fish can easily be determined by calcified tissue analysis. However, Greenland sharks have no conventional tissues. They are basically soft and lack any hard tissues.
So, no one can count growth layers in any body parts. As such, they used another method to determine the Greenland shark age: by trying radiocarbon dating techniques on the eye lenses of the sharks. That’s exactly how they do it with the bowhead whale.
What’s even more incredible is that the Greenland sharks only reach sexual maturity around the age of 130 to 170 years!
No one knows why Greenland sharks live so long. It could be related to the fact that they are cold-blooded animals. Other than that, scientists haven’t figured out the reason.
Although they are typically found in the Arctic, they’ve been sighted in other cold waters around the world, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico and the Canary Islands.
Greenland sharks are some of the biggest carnivorous sharks known to us. They can grow up to 5 metres!
They are usually grey, but some are black and one was spotted all over. When seen, most would say that they look like ancient animals.
What do Greenland Sharks Eat?
Greenland sharks mostly eat Atlantic cod, Greenland halibut, and seal. They have a sluggish demeanor which led scientists to believe that these sharks were scavengers. But they’re not!
The Greenland sharks appear to be ambush predators, playing a huge role in the ecosystem. However, to fully understand them, more research is necessary.