Study Finds Greenland Sharks Live for Hundreds of Years

Posted on August 12, 2016

Greenland shark

Marine biologists at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that Greenland sharks live for hundreds of years. They have a life expectancy of 272 years. This is the longest life expectancy of all vertebrate animals. The study also found some Greenland sharks may live for over 400 years.

The researchers used eye lens carbon-14 dating to develop the method to estimate the lifespan of Greenland sharks. The article's main author is PhD student Julius Nielsen of the University of Copenhagen's Department of Biology.

Nielsen says in a statement, "Our lifespan study is based on the carbon-14 dating of Greenland shark eye lenses. As with other vertebrates, the lenses consist of a unique type of metabolically inactive tissue. Because the center of the lens does not change from the time of a shark's birth, it allows the tissue's chemical composition to reveal a shark's age. We use well-established radiocarbon methods, but combine them in a new way. This approach, along with the extraordinary ages for these sharks makes this study highly unusual."

A research paper on the study was published in the journal Science. Take a look:



Photo: Julius Nielsen