Greenland sharks are now the longest-living vertebrates known on Earth, according to scientists.
The researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of 28 of the animals and estimated that a female was around 400 years old.
Lead author Julius Nielsen, a marine biologist from the University of Copenhagen, said: “We had our expectations that we were dealing with an unusual animal, but I think everyone doing this research was very surprised to learn the sharks were as old as they were.”
Greenland sharks are huge and can reach 5m in length. Yet they grow only 1cm per year.
Scientists then calculated an age range for the older sharks based on their size and previous data on Greenland shark birth size and fish growth rates.
According to the results of the analysis – which has a probability rate of about 95 percent – the sharks were at least 272 years old, and could be as much as 512 years old (!) with 390 years as the most likely average life span, according to Nielsen.