11 of the Longest Living Animals That Roam Our Planet

11 of the Longest Living Animals That Roam Our Planet

Earth, the third planet from the sun and the only planet known to have an atmosphere that is capable of supporting life. The shiny blue marble has been fascinating humans since we first began walking across its surface. In addition to being our home, it is the only known planet where life thrives. Over the course of the past few centuries, we have been trying to learn as much as we can about our home planet. Even today, scientists are finding new things about Earth that only deepens our fascination. Like us, millions of other species are also roaming Earth. While the average life expectancy of a human being is 79, there are many species of animals that are capable of living for centuries. Here, we have gathered a list of 11 such animals, who are capable of living way longer than humans.

1. Tuatara – 110 years and older

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Image: Bernard Spragg

The tuatara is a lizard-like reptile and is one of the most unique animals in the world. Although it looks like a lizard, it’s quite different and is only found in New Zealand. The tuatara’s closest relatives are an extinct group of reptiles that lived around the time of dinosaurs. This is why scientists often refer to them as “living fossils”. The spiky scaled creature has a “third eye” on the top of its head. This “eye” has a retina, lens, and nerve endings but scientists believe that the tuatara uses this eye to judge the time of the day or seasons; since they are nocturnal. Apart from their unique characteristics, tuataras also live for a long time, with some exceeding more than 110 years of age. In 2009, a 110 year old tuatara became a dad. (source)

2. Orange roughy – 149 years

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Image: NOAA

The orange roughy is a unique species of fish that lives on or over the sea floor. They don’t grow longer than a few feet, but they do have a long lifespan. They are slow-growing and can live for up to 149 years. Scientists studying the marine animal found that they live close to the surface of the seafloor where ocean currents are extremely strong. The powerful currents bring in other fish that the orange roughy feeds on. According to the Smithsonian, the fish is currently endangered due to over-fishing. (source)

3. Red sea urchin – More than 200 years

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Image: Pixabay

The red sea urchin, which is mainly found in the shallow waters of the Pacific Ocean, is one of Earth’s longest-living animals. The small, spiny creature is known to live for more than 200 years in the wild. According to US research teams from Oregon and California, they show very little signs of age-related disease, making scientists believe that they are almost immortal. Although they are filled with spikes, these tiny creatures fill their day by feeding on marine plants. The spikes surrounding its body is in fact used to deter possible predators. (source)

4. Bowhead whale – 211 years old

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Image: Wikimedia

Whales are the largest animals on Earth and also live longer than all other mammals in the animal kingdom. While many people can easily identify humpback whales, bowhead whales are not that familiar. According to scientists, the Arctic dwellers can live for more than 200 years. BBC Nature also reports that bowheads can survive for over two centuries because they have very low body temperatures — and the lower an animal’s body temperature, the longer it can live. (source)

5. Koi fish – 226 years old

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Image: Katie McNabb

The elegant and regal koi fish is found in outdoor ponds and water gardens throughout the world. The ornamental species of fish are descendants of the carp and were bred almost exclusively in Japan. Although their lifespan is around 25-50 years in captivity, in the wild they can live for more than two centuries. A koi named Hanako was the longest living freshwater fish ever recorded. At 226 years old, Hanako was a beautiful scarlet colored female fish that was found in Japan. On May 25, 1966, Dr. Komei Koshihara, the last owner of Hanako, made the story public. He explained that the koi was passed down from his grandmother who had inherited the fish from “olden times”. (source)

6. Aldabra giant tortoise – 255 years old

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Image: Pixabay

Tortoises are also known for a long lifespan. While some live for up to 150 years, there was an aldabra tortoise named Addwaita, who lived for 250 years. The tortoise, thought to be one of the world’s oldest creatures, was brought to India by British sailors. According to the local lore, Addwaita means “the one and only” in the local Bengali language. Although Addwaita passed away in 2006, the zoo records show that the age of the giant tortoise would be approximately 250 years old when he passed away. Addwaita arrived at the zoo in 1875 with three other tortoises but he outlived all of them. (source)

7. Freshwater pearl mussels – 280 years old

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Image: Joel Berglund

The freshwater pearl mussels are one of the longest living creatures on the planet, capable of living up to 280 years old. Most of the world’s pearl mussel population is located in Scotland but today, they are on the list of critically endangered species. The creatures live on the beds of clean, fast-flowing rivers, where they bury themselves. According to scientists, they are nature’s filtration system, capable of filtering more water in a day than an average person uses to shower. (source)

8. Greenland shark – 400 years old

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Image: NOAA

Also known as gurry shark, grey shark or sleeper shark, they are the second largest carnivorous shark after the great white. Unlike the great white, the greenland shark lives in deep Arctic waters where there are rarely any humans. They are not only different in their appearance, but also in their behavior. Scientists are still trying to learn about these mysterious creatures, since they are rarely seen. Their existence was only known in 1955 but it wasn’t until 2003 that an image of the greenland shark was obtained. They are capable of diving up to depths of 2,200 meters and have a lifespan of 400 years or more; making them the oldest-known vertebrate to roam the Earth. (source)

9. Ocean quahog – 507 years old

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Image: Ecomare

Also known as a mahogany clam or mahogany quahog, the ocean quahog is a slow growing animal. The marine bivalve mollusk adds a layer to its shell for every year it has lived. They can live for an average of 200 years before they drift along with water currents and are caught by fishermen. Ocean quahogs are filter feeders who bury themselves in the ocean floor and pump oxygen-filled water and food particles. In 2006, scientists discovered an ocean quahog that was 507 years old. The researchers at Bangor University in Wales initially thought the ocean quahog was 407 years old but after careful study, determined it to be 100 years older than their estimation. (source)

10. Antarctic sponge – 1,550 years old

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Image: Pixabay

Sea sponges or Antarctic sponges are also animals who are capable of living for centuries or even thousands of years. The majority of scientists believe that these little creatures are capable of living for thousands of years due to the extremely low temperatures of the Antarctic Ocean. Since they are immobile, they have an extremely slow growth rate. One study in the journal Aging Research Reviews notes a deep-sea sponge from the species Monorhaphis chuni that lived to be 11,000 years old. (source)

11. Turritopsis nutricula jellyfish – No lifespan

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Image: Peter Schuchert/The Hydrozoa Directory

The turritopsis nutricula jellyfish is a certain species that has been deemed “immortal” by scientists. When in crisis, scientists observed that the jellyfish reverts its cells to the earliest form and starts the lifecycle again. This means that, the 4 millimeters to 5 millimeters long creatures can literally live forever by reverting their cells into their younger form. First discovered in 1883, the Turritopsis nutricula has a unique method of reverting into a young one. If felt threatened or injured, the jellyfish will come to the surface of warm waters and attach itself onto something.

Once it latches onto an object, it turns itself into a blob and the cells undergo transdifferentiation. The cells essentially transform into different types of cells and the jellyfish becomes a new one. Scientists believe that there may be no natural limit to its life span for these creatures, which makes them theoretically immortal. (source)

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