The World's Longest Lived Animals

The World's Longest Lived Animals

Feb 25, 2020Hayden

Despite advances in medical technology and healthcare, the longest any person has lived is to 120 years old. The average lifespan of a person in the US is only 79 years old. Some animals can live WAY past those numbers though. A few can live for hundreds of years. Which animals? You can probably guess a few of them, but some of them may surprise you. There are even a few of them who are nearly immortal! How do they do it? Why do some of them live longer than others?  Read on and find out!

Orange Roughy

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Orange Roughys are found all over the world. They're one of the most commonly eaten fish and as such, are often overfarmed. They begin mating at 20-30 years of age, so once they are overfarmed, it becomes difficult to get their population up. It has taken careful fishing management and commercial farms to keep their population stable. They can live to be 150 years old though! 

African Bush Elephant

The African Bush Elephant is the largest land animal. They can be 13 feet tall and weigh nearly 11 tons. That's a huge creature, and they also happen to live very long lives. They can live up to 70 years in the wild. Unlike a lot of animals on this list, they live longer in the wild than they do in captivity. 70 years is a long time for any animal; it's nearly as long as the Cold War!

The Greenland Shark

This water creature is also called Somniosus microcephalus, the gurry shark, grey shark, or eqalussauq (it is his Kalaallisut name). It comes from the family of sharks known as Somniosidea, which means “sleeper sharks”. They can mostly be found in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. They have the longest lifespan of any vertebrate animal. It’s estimated to be between 300 and 500 years.

American Lobsters

There is a myth surrounding the American Lobster: people think that they are immortal. This is not true, but they do live very long lives. The combination of living in a cold environment and the shedding of their exoskeletons probably helps their long lifespan. Lobsters have been found that are over 100 years old. That's quite impressive if you consider that they were actually born before Kirk Douglas or Olivia De Havilland!

Olm Salamanders

Olm salamanders are an interesting creature. In the Middle Ages, people found them in caves and mountains and assumed that they were small baby dragons. They don't breath fire or fly, but they can live to be 110 years old. That's an especially incredible number because most other breeds of salamander don't live past 15. They are also all naturally blind, which usually leads to more problems with their lifespans.

White Sturgeons

White Sturgeons are bred in the US for their roe, which is a particularly nice version of caviar. Sturgeons are a bit of an odd fish though. They don't have scales, their bones are made from cartilage, and their bodies are surrounded by actual bony plates. They are really large too; up to 20 feet in length. They also can live over 100 years. Scientists estimate that they can live for much longer, but the oldest found has been 104.

Redbanded Rockfish

These red scaly fish can be found all along the west coast of North America. They are also called "bandit fish" because of their distinctive markings. The interesting thing about the Redbanded Rockfish is that they mature at different times depending on the temperature of the water. The ones in Alaska can take 19 years to fully mature, and they live the longest. The oldest one found was 107 years old. That means that it could have seen the Titanic sink!

Blue Whales

The Blue Whale is, of course, gigantic. They are the largest animals of any kind in the world, and they have a very long lifespan to match. Everything about a blue whale is enormous. Even their tongues weigh as much as an African Elephant! The longest-lived blue whales that we know of have lived for 110 years. That puts them through both World Wars!

Shortspine Thornyhead

We've already talked about one rockfish, and here's another. Rockfish tend to be the longest-lived genus of fish, and the Shortspine Thornyhead is no exception. They live up to 115 years. There is a catch with the rockfish though. People love to eat them, and they take quite a while to mature. So when they are overfished, they disappear faster and they take a long time to come back. They are doing fine right now, but 25 years ago that wasn't true.

Beluga Sturgeon

If you like caviar, chances are that Beluga caviar is at the top of your list. These sturgeons can live up to 118 years, and it can take up to 50 years for them to start producing roe, which is made into caviar. This is the reason for the cost of beluga caviar. It takes forever to get started, and it's a huge investment for a commercial farm. They have to be cut open and the eggs extracted too, so the reproduction process is slow.

Fin Whales

Fin whales may not be as large as blue whales, but they might live longer. Fin whales are named for the appendage on their dorsal side, which resembles a shark fin. They can live up to 120 years old. The Fin Whale was once hunted to near-extinction, but the moratorium placed on hunting them means that their population has begun to grow again. They aren't the longest-lived whales though. We'll get to them in a little bit.

Sablefish

The Sablefish, or black cod, is a very long-lived fish. They live in the deepest parts of the ocean - nearly half a mile down. Sablefish can live up to 90 years, which is rare in marine wildlife. These fish are considered a delicacy all over the world, and this has led to a problem for them. Despite their long lives, they have now been overfished, although the population has been growing again. At 90 years, they've lived through 17 US presidents!

European Pond Turtles

Everyone knows that turtles and tortoises live a long time. Most of the time when we talk about long-lived turtles, we are talking about giant box tortoises though. Even the smaller ones can live for a long time. The small European pond turtle can live for 120 years. If you ever decide to have a turtle as a pet, just remember that it's a lifelong commitment, and they might actually outlive you!

Mediterranean Spur-Thighed Tortoises 

Not surprisingly, we're going to add another tortoise to the list. At this point, we should probably explain the difference between a turtle and tortoise, since they are often confused. A turtle is an amphibious creature that lives in the water. Tortoises live exclusively on land. The Mediterranian Spur-Thigh tortoise is a long-lived example. They can live up to 130 years. These are still small ones too!

Eastern Box Turtles

Eastern box turtles have an interesting property to their long lives. They don't experience senescence, which means that they don't have any of the normal effects of aging. Instead, they just grow bigger and bigger. Now, normally, they only live about 40 years, which is short by turtle standards. However, some Eastern Box Turtles have lived for as long as 140 years in the wild. They can also regenerate their shells, which is unique and allows them to survive some wounds that other turtles can't.

Watery Oreo

Watery oreos are not cookies that have sat around too long. In fact, their name derives from their Latin name oreosomatidae. In any event, they live very long lives. They are bottom feeders on the ocean floor and have very few predators. Like a lot of deepwater fish, they can live a long time; up to 140 years in the oldest ones observed. 

The Lake Sturgeon

Its scientific name is Acipenser fulvescens, but it is also known as the rock sturgeon. You can find it in North American freshwater and is one out of 25 types of sturgeon. It’s a bottom feeder like most of its kind. They live a lot longer than humans some times. Their lifespan can vary between 80 to 150 years, and they can measure 7.25 ft with a weight of 240 lbs.

The Immortal Jellyfish

Its scientific name is Turritopsis dohrnii, and it’s a small kind of jelly that, just like its name suggests, never dies. You can find it in the Mediterranean Sea and around Japan. It’s one of the only known species that goes back to an immature state after going through maturity (essentially it reverts puberty). So, immortality is real!

Jonathan, The Tortoise

Jonathan is a Seychelles giant tortoise, also known as Aldabrachelys gigantean hololissa, which is a subspecies of the Aldabra giant tortoise. This photo was taken in 1900 or so, and he's still alive! He's considered to be the oldest living land creature on our planet as of this writing. He can be found on the island of Saint Helena, a British colony in the South Atlantic Ocean. He's estimated to be between 186 to 187 years old.

We hope you learned something about long-lived animals today. Perhaps one day, scientists will be able to apply their knowledge of these animals long lives to humans, allowing us to live longer and be healthier. If this story makes you think, please share it with your friends. Thanks for reading!