The Greenland shark is a mysterious beast, living an elusive lifestyle in the icy depths of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is also practically immortal.
Immortality has fascinated humanity for centuries, as the allure of living forever is highly intriguing. But can you imagine actually living forever? Seriously. Think about it. The same humdrum routine day after day. Now imagine how awful it would be if you were a shark.
The Greenland shark isn’t exactly immortal, but it might as well be. Thanks to a carbon test from a deceased female Greenland shark’s eye, Julius Nielsen, a marine biologist at the University of Copenhagen, was able to discern that the shark lived to be 392 years old, plus or minus 120 years.
That difficult to believe age thus makes the fish-eating shark the longest lived vertebrate in the natural world.
A strange shark, the Greenland shark looks more befitting of the Cretaceous Period than the 21st century, and its slow, melodic swimming is definitely appropriate for an animal that drags through time like this shark does.
While there is still some skepticism on whether or not this 392-year-old Greenland shark is merely an anomaly, it is undeniable that Greenland sharks are remarkable creatures.
While several species of whale have been known to have specimens live to be triple digits (the previous age record for a vertebrate was a bowhead whale that lived to be 211), most sharks typically only live to be a maximum of 80 years old.
The fact that the Greenland shark lives in such frigid waters, moving at a slow pace and living an all-around leisurely life makes it conducive for a lengthy lifespan, so it is no wonder that is prehistoric-looking fish is an exception to the rule.
Just to put 392 years into perspective, that Greenland shark was roaming the icy waters surrounding Greenland in 1624, the same year that Virginia became an English colony. So, in conclusion, life is far too short, unless you are a Greenland shark.