We humans are proud of our long (and increasingly longer) life, but the amazing fact is that in terms of longevity Homo sapiens significantly inferior to some other representatives of the animal world, including sharks, whales and even amphibians or mollusks. In this article, you will learn about the 11 most long-lived representatives of various groups of animals in order of increasing life expectancy.
The longest-lived insect is the termite queen (50 years old)
Usually people think that insects live only a few days or weeks, but if you are especially important, all the rules cease to apply. Regardless of species, the termite colony is ruled by the king and queen. After male insemination, the queen slowly increases egg production, starting with a few dozen and, ultimately, reaching a level of approximately 25,000 eggs per day (of course, not all of these eggs mature). Not having become predators' dinner, termite queens are known to have reached the age of 50, and kings (who spend almost their entire lives locked in a marriage chamber with their prolific queens) also have a relatively long life. As for the simple working termites that make up the bulk of the colony, they live a maximum of one to two years. This is the fate of an ordinary slave.
The longest-living fish - koi carps (50 years old)
In the wild, fish rarely live longer than several years, and even an aquarium goldfish requires good care in order to reach a decade. But many fish in the world would envy koi colored carps, popular in Japan and other parts of the world, including the United States. Like other representatives of cyprinids, koi can withstand the most diverse environmental conditions, although (especially considering their vibrant colors that people like), they are not particularly well camouflaged to protect against predators. Individual koi individuals are thought to have lived for more than 200 years, but the most common estimate among scientists is 50 years, which is much longer than the average inhabitant of your aquarium.
The longest-living bird is macaw (100 years old)
These colorful parrots can reproduce all their lives: females incubate eggs and take care of chicks, while males get food. Having a life expectancy of up to 60 years in the wild and up to 100 years in captivity, macaws are practically not inferior to humans. Oddly enough, although these birds can live very long, many species are threatened with extinction because of the desire of people to keep them as pets and deforestation of rainforests. The longevity of macaws and other members of the parrot family raises the question: since the birds evolved from dinosaurs, and since we know that many dinosaurs were just as small and colorful, could some of the representatives of these prehistoric reptiles reach the age of one hundred?
The longest-living amphibian is the European Proteus (100 years)
If you are asked to name animals that regularly reach a century old, then blind amphibian is a European Proteus (Proteus anguinus) will probably be the last on your list: how can a fragile, eyeless, cave, 30 centimeter amphibian live in the wild for at least a couple of weeks? Naturalists attribute the longevity of the European protea to an unusually slow metabolism. These amphibians reach puberty at only 15 years old, and also lay eggs no more than once every 12 years. They practically do not move, except when searching for food. Moreover, in the damp caves of Southern Europe, where the European Proteus lives, there are practically no predators, which allows you to live up to 100 years in the wild. For comparison, the Japanese giant salamander, which is second in the list of long-lived amphibians, rarely overcomes the 50-year mark.
The longest-lived primacy is human (100 years old)
People often live up to 100 years or more, which makes us champions in life expectancy among primates. In the world there are about half a million people about 100 years old. Tens of thousands of years ago Homo sapiens considered to be elderly if he lived to be 20-30 years old, and until the 18th century the average life expectancy rarely exceeded 50 years. The main culprits were high infant mortality and susceptibility to fatal diseases. Nevertheless, at any stage of human history, if you managed to survive in early childhood and adolescence, your chances of living 50, 60, or even 70 increased significantly. What can we attribute this amazing increase in longevity to? Well, in a word, civilization, especially sanitation, medicine, food and cooperation (during the ice age, a tribe of people most likely left their elderly relatives to starve in the cold, and today we are making special efforts to take care of our eighty-year-old relatives.)
The longest-lived mammals are the bowhead whale (200 years old)
As a rule, larger mammals have a relatively long life span, but even by this standard the bowhead whales are far ahead, as they often step over the 200-year mark. Recently, the analysis of the genome of the bowhead whale has shed some light on this mystery: it turns out that these whales have unique genes that help in the restoration of DNA and resistance to mutations (and, therefore, cancer). Since the bowhead whale lives in arctic and subarctic waters, its relatively slow metabolism may also have something to do with longevity. Today, about 25,000 bowhead whales live in the northern hemisphere, which is a positive trend in population recovery since 1966, when serious international efforts were made to contain whalers.
The longest-lived reptile is a giant tortoise (300 years old)
Giant turtles of the Galapagos and Seychelles are classic examples of “island gigantism” - the tendency of animals, limited to island habitats and without natural predators, to grow to unusually large sizes. And in these turtles, life expectancy ideally matches their weight from 200 to 500 kg. As you know, giant turtles live longer than 200 years, and there is every reason to believe that in the wild they regularly overcome the mark of 300 years. Like some other animals on this list, the reasons for the longevity of giant turtles are obvious: these reptiles move very slowly, their basal metabolism is extremely low, and life stages are usually relatively long (for example, the giant tortoise Aldabra reaches puberty only at 30 years old).
The most long-lived microorganisms are endoliths (10,000 years)
Determining the life expectancy of microorganisms is a rather complicated process. In a sense, all bacteria are immortal as they spread their genetic information by constantly sharing (and not like most higher animals having sex). The term “endoliths” refers to bacteria, fungi, archaea, or algae that live deep underground in rock crevices, corals, and animal shells. Studies have shown that some individuals from endolithic colonies undergo cell division only once every hundred years, and their life expectancy reaches 10,000 years. Technically, this differs from the ability of some microorganisms to come to life after stagnation or deep freezing after tens of thousands of years. Endoliths in the literal sense are constantly “alive”, although not very active. They are autotrophic organisms that metabolize not using oxygen or sunlight, but using inorganic chemicals that are practically inexhaustible in their habitats.
The longest-lived invertebrate is Turritopsis dohrnii (potentially immortal)
There is no reliable way to determine how many years the average jellyfish has been living. These invertebrates are so fragile that they are not susceptible to intensive research in laboratories. However, not a single rating of long-lived animals would be complete without mentioning Turritopsis dohrnii - A type of jellyfish that is able to return to the stage of the polyp after reaching puberty, which makes them potentially immortal. However, it’s almost unbelievable that some kind of individual T. dohrnii could live for millions of years. Biological “immortality” does not mean that other animals will not eat you or abrupt changes in environmental conditions will kill you. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to keep jellyfish T. dohrnii in captivity, a feat that so far has been performed by only one scientist working in Japan.
10. European Proteus
The European Proteus is one of the longest-living animals on Earth, which can reach a hundred years of age. The habitat of this unusual creature, which is also referred to as a human fish due to body color, are ponds in caves. The European Proteus has small dimensions that do not exceed 13 centimeters.
On the body there are two pairs of legs that have fingers. The uniqueness of this animal lies not only in its longevity, unusual appearance, but also in its ability to perceive the environment - the organ of vision of the protea is practically not developed, therefore, perception goes through photosensitive cells located along the entire surface of a small body.
Tuatara or hatteria rightfully refers to the centenarians of the planet, whose age can reach up to 200 years. This large-sized lizard prefers to lead a nocturnal lifestyle, at which time he goes in search of food. The place of residence of this species is the land of New Zealand.
These are quite large reptiles whose length can reach 80 centimeters. Puberty in individuals of this species occurs at twenty years of life. They breed very slowly. After mating with the male, the appearance of eggs and before hatching, more than 1 year passes. Currently, these animals are listed in the Red Book, as they are threatened with extinction.
Guidac, which means “deep digging”, is one of the longest-living mollusks on the planet, whose average life expectancy reaches 145 years. However, there have been recorded cases of the presence of animals of this species, whose age reached 160 years. Among the existing versions of longevity, the main ones are two - a sluggish metabolism and the absence of enemies.
These are quite unusual creatures that have long intergrown siphons, capable of reaching up to 1 meter in length. Moreover, they have a small and very fragile shell of 20 centimeters. For all their longevity, guidaki produce about 5 billion eggs to continue offspring.
7. Red sea urchin
The red sea urchin is equal to the centenarians of the planet. The age of some individuals can reach 200 years or more. The habitat of these creatures is the Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of North America. They prefer shallow waters to a depth of 90 meters and live where there are virtually no waves. These amazing living individuals move along the seabed with their spikes located over the entire surface of the body. Echinoderms are relatively small in size, which can range from 2 to a couple of tens of centimeters. Sea urchins are not picky in the diet and practically eat everything that comes across to them, both from plant and animal food.
6. Greenland whale
The bowhead whale belongs to marine mammals, which also belongs to a number of long-livers of the planet. The age of this vertebrate creature can exceed 200 years. The oldest recorded champion lived to be 211 years old. The bowhead whale prefers the cold waters of the Northern Hemisphere.
However, for their addiction, these animals do not like to be among the permafrost, so sometimes they have to break the ice floes to make their own way. Due to the fact that Greenland whales live in harsh conditions, it is quite difficult for scientists to observe them.
5. Carp koi
Koi carp is one of the most long-lived animals, which, in addition to everything, also has a very interesting variegated color. In this species, the fish has more than 14 colors. Koi carps are domesticated ornamental fish species that were introduced to China 2.5 thousand years ago.
A feature of these water-inhabited creatures is their ability to survive up to 200 years or more. One of such centenarians is a fish named Hanako, whose age was 226 years. Counting the age of koi carps is carried out by the number of rings that are on their scales.
4. Abingdon elephant tortoise
The Abingdon elephant turtle is one of the most long-lived vertebrates that live on our planet. Representatives of this species are able to live up to 150 years or more. One of these centenarians is the tortoise Garietta, who was born around 1830.
At the time of death, her age was 250 years. Garietta died in an Australian zoo from heart failure. Another centenarian of this genus is the Advaita tortoise, who died at about the same age as the previous centenarian.
3. Greenland polar shark
The Greenland polar shark, whose average life expectancy is 275 years, rightfully belongs to the most long-living creatures of our planet. However, according to some scientists, the age of this predator can reach 512 years. These are very large animals that can reach a length of 7.5 meters.
Up to a hundred years old, the Greenland polar sharks belong to young individuals and their growth does not exceed 3 meters. These massive creatures can reach mass up to one and a half tons. These sharks reach puberty only by 150 years of life. In the litter, the female brings up to 10 newborns, the length of which at the time of birth is 90 centimeters.
2. Jellyfish Turritopsis nutricula
Jellyfish Turritopsis nutricula belongs to almost immortal animals, as it is able to pass into the polyp stage and vice versa after puberty. That is why this animal creature has no natural limitation on its lifespan. Now scientists are actively studying this type of jellyfish, which may help to reveal the secret of how to reverse the aging process.
1. Oceanic Venus
Oceanic venus refers to the genus of bivalve mollusks that lives in oceanic waters. This is the most long-lived creature on Earth, known to science. Venus age can exceed 500 years. The average duration of these mollusks is 400 years.
The mollusk, which was named Min, became the record holder among representatives of this species, its age, according to scientists, was 507 years. Age determination was carried out by counting tree rings on its carapace. The mine was washed ashore in 2006, and its date of birth is approximately considered to be 1499.
Why study animals living long
One of the tasks of gerontologists, that is, scientists involved in the problem of aging, is to determine which animal lives the longest and determine the reasons for such longevity.
Reliably determine the age of the caught individuals for modern scientists is not difficult. They offer spectral analysis, other technical means, and even such simple methods as the usual arithmetic calculation of the number of layers on fish scales or a mollusk shell.Long-lived animals, for all their silence, can tell a lot about the chemical composition of atmospheric air and soil, their diet and even the temperature conditions of historical periods remote from us. True, there are difficulties. The ability to regenerate cells (a quality that is very important for preserving life) leads to the replacement of obsolete cells with newly formed cells, which causes the loss of a certain part of information.
Brain mass and longevity
Warm-blooded long-lived animals, as a rule, have considerable dimensions. The same applies to the mass of the brain. The fact is that this body is responsible not only for mental abilities and storage of instincts, but also for the regulation of metabolism in the body. Reptiles, especially turtles, also obey this law. There is even a direct correlation for each species of the animal world, according to which the average life expectancy of an organism can be calculated by weight. However, there are other factors affecting this indicator.
The metabolic rate is the parameter that determines the life span. In this sense, the Antarctic sponge is the record holder. Slow growth and low temperature conditions set the pace at which the development of the mentioned creature takes place. This is the longest-living animal on the entire planet, individual individuals are at the age of one and a half thousand years. Older than Antarctic sponges, there is no one on Earth, nor can they notice any sign of an approaching demise.
The red variety of the sea urchin has approximately the same qualities. More recently, it was believed that their century was short, not more than one and a half decades. This opinion was refuted after an individual was caught with an inscription scratched on it, testifying to the capture of this fish in 1805, made by some Lewis and Clark from Oregon. It turned out that these centenarians among animals have a completely unique property that makes them practically immortal, namely the ability to constantly update the cellular structure of the body. Thanks to this feature, they almost do not age.
Ming Dynasty Clam
British biologists have found an Arctic clam, whose age exceeds four centuries. He was born in the era of the Chinese Ming Dynasty, which prompted scientists to give him such a name, although his homeland is the coast of Iceland. At the moment, it is the most long-lived animal in the world among mollusks. Age is determined fairly reliably, by the number of lines on the shell. This creature lived under an eight-meter layer of cold Arctic water, being alone, which has preserved it to this day, since none of the natural enemies have managed to get close to it. Now it has become the subject of careful study, as well as a candidate for admission to the honorary list of the Guinness Book of Records for the nomination of centenarians.
Centennial pikes, carps, catfish and pikes are not a rarity. The legend of Frederick Barbarossa contains interesting information for ichthyologists that the pike released into the lake four decades after the death of the emperor (and she was already at a venerable age) was caught by fishermen. Everything would be fine, but she spent 267 years in the pond, so she lived for at least three centuries. During this time, the fish reached a weight of 140 kg.
Artifacts found inside huge sturgeons, sharks, pikes and carps caught prove that a hundred years is not age for them.
Reptiles living long
Turtles are famous for their longevity, and elephants that live on the Galapagos Islands stand out among them. It is they who cook the famous soup, and if the individuals managed to avoid this sad fate, then she has every chance to celebrate her bicentennial. The recorded record of life expectancy is 255 years, that is how many “hit” Advante - the beloved turtle of the English general Clive. When the colonialist died, she was transferred to the menagerie of the city of Calcutta. Ministers of the zoo were changing, epoch-making events took place. War and revolution thundered on the planet, India gained state independence, and the old reptile continued to delight visitors with its excellent health. She died only in 2006.
Greenland whales are true centenarians among mammalian animals. Their age can be judged by the tips of harpoons stuck centuries ago during attempts to catch these ocean giants. The recorded life expectancy of a whale, which was called Bad, was 211 years.
There are long-lived animals among land mammals, but their records are much more modest, and they are more likely to be the exception than the rule. For example, if, on average, the horse’s age does not exceed 35 years, then the English mare Bee reached 62. For a year, Bonaparte’s personal horse managed to live Merengue, which even with special care can be called an impressive achievement.
For 29 years a cat named Spassk delighted its owners, for which he was posthumously awarded an entry in the Guinness Book (1999).
Of all the birds, a raven is chosen as a symbol of wisdom. Some peoples consider it eternal, but this is not so. He lives a long time, sometimes more than two centuries, but on average, the age of the bird reaches hundreds of years. Interestingly, in captivity he lives longer than in freedom. Equally long is the existence of a falcon, a kite and, of course, a parrot. The latter is a frequent guest in human dwelling, therefore, tracking the dates of his birth and death is much easier than in the case of wild birds.
Primitiveness or the secret of eternal life
Despite the long century, complex organisms cannot be compared in their ability to regenerate with primitive individuals. As it turned out recently, jellyfish are the best ones for this indicator. Longevity animals living in the Caribbean are generally almost eternal. The secret is simple: they develop cyclically, reborn an infinite number of times. A young individual with eight tentacles and a millimeter in size gradually grows, increasing eightfold and acquiring new limbs, the number of which reaches ninety. Then the jellyfish suddenly begins to decrease, turns into a polyp, and then everything goes in a circle.