From ancient crustaceans and turtles … to jellyfish that defy the aging process … Here are 15 immortal long-living animals
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#6 Giant Tortoises
As has been documented, turtles can live to advanced ages. And there’s some evidence to suggest that the reptiles could potentially be biologically immortal. How do they manage to live for so long? Their metabolisms are slow and they can go without food and water for long periods of time. Internal organs remain durable because the animals can essentially turn their heart on and off at will, so it isn’t constantly beating or wearing down. Certain tortoises have become famous for their ability to withstand the onslaught of time. That includes Adwaita , a male Aldabra giant tortoise that lived in a zoo in India. At the time of his death in 2006, his age was estimated at 255 years. Today there’s a Seychelles (say-shell)) giant tortoise named Jonathan that lives on the island of Saint Helena. Thought to have been hatched in 1832, he’s around 187 years old now. That makes him the world’s oldest known extant terrestrial animal. Wildlife biologists say that when tortoises perish, it’s not typically due to the stresses of old age. When the internal organs of a 100-year-old tortoise have been compared with those of a teenage counterpart they were nearly identical.
#5 Greenland Sharks
These animals are among the largest extant species of shark, growing more than 20 feet long ( 6 m) and weighing over 2,000 pounds (907 kg). And along with that impressive size, they have an impressive lifespan to go with it. In fact, they have the longest known lifespan of any vertebrate species! A study conducted in 2016 used radiocarbon dating to determine that the oldest of 28 specimens examined could have lived for 392 years! And even though many experts think the creature was more likely aged over 270 years that would still make it the longest living creature with a backbone. Because they’re found mostly in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, there could be a connection between the animal’s longevity and their cold water habitat.
#4 Glass Sea Sponges
A lot of us don’t think of sea sponges as actual animals, but they are. And the glass sea sponge doesn’t appear to be very durable. Yet, experts say they can have lifespans of upwards of 15,000 years. That figure was determined after one specimen was estimated to be around 23,000 years old! These creatures are found in Antarctic waters at depths approaching some 3,000 feet (914 m). Their common name refers to their internal skeletons, which are composed of fused silica and has a glasslike appearance. It’s thought that sponges evolved into their modern form around 700 million years ago. That could serve to make them the oldest living animals in the world today.
These unassuming organisms are more properly referred to as ‘planarian worms. Whatever you want to call these creepy-crawlies, many scientists feel they might have what it takes to be immortal. These soft-bodied invertebrates possess amazing regenerative abilities that might eventually be applied to products that allow humans to live longer. Results from a 4-year experiment conducted in the UK at Nottingham University were reported in 2012. Researchers put the worm’s abilities to the test by taking one creature and sectioning it into several pieces. Amazingly, a completely new animal was regenerated from each separate section. Over the duration of the experiment a colony estimated to number more than 20,000 flatworms was spawned from the single, original specimen. Scientists found no sign of aging in the bodies and organs of the replicant worms. They say that barring infection or illness a single undivided worm could potentially live forever.
#2 The Immortal Jellyfish
While we’ve had a number of organisms that are almost immortal, this creature makes the case for full fledged biological immortality. Turritopsis Nutricula is a small jellyfish native to the Mediterranean and the Caribbean Sea. Experts say it has the capability to revert its mature adult self back to the polyp stage. Imagine if a butterfly was able to revert back to its caterpillar stage, and that’s the general idea. The entire process still isn’t fully understood by scientists, but the jellyfish can apparently repeat this cycle endlessly. Meaning that this animal’s lifespan might not have any natural limit. So it earns the title of the Immortal Jellyfish!