In our world as humans living up to 90 years or more is considered remarkable longevity but when it comes to animals, 90 years old can be considered infant years. Some animals have been around for so long that nowadays they are considered living fossils since dinosaurs are their direct relatives. Below are some of the animals that can live for long periods of time.
The first animal on our list of animals that live the longest is a macaw. It is recognisable by its brightly covered feathers, and macaws are members of the parrot family. These birds have a long lifespan and, in the right environment, they can live to be 60 to 80 years old. They can be found in the rainforests and feed on a mix of nuts and seeds. However, the majority of these beautiful birds are endangered in the wild and a few are already extinct as a result of habitat degradation and illegal pet trade.
The second animal on our list of animals that live the longest are African elephants. African elephants are the largest living land animals with an average lifespan of 70 years. Researchers are able to tell the age of African elephants using several characteristics including their size and number of teeth. However, telling their age is a process that requires observational skills and a lot of practice. Females reach breeding age around 10-12 years old and, unlike many animals including humans they may remain fertile for the rest of their lives. They can give birth to around 7 children in total. However, being a pregnant elephant is no easy task for elephants because their pregnancy can last for 22 months, which is almost three times as long as a human pregnancy.
Galapagos Giant Tortoise
Also on our list of animals that live the longest is the giant tortoise. These giant tortoises can live up to well over 100 years, with the oldest known to be 152 years old. A tortoise by the name Lonesome George was the last remaining Pinta Island Tortoise on the islands and, for a while, the world’s rarest creature but the tortoise died in 2012 at around 100 years of age. Like many of the animals on our list, giant tortoises have a slow pace of life, they munch on grass and other vegetation plus they spend most of their time basking in the sun and resting for up to 16 hours a day.
Red Sea Urchin
The Red Sea Urchin is also believed to be almost immortal and are known to live for over 200 years with no signs of ageing. These animals are more likely to be eaten by a predator than die of an age-related issue, and at 100 years they can be just as healthy and able to reproduce as a young individual. Finding the age of these spiny echinoderms is possible by making use of radiocarbon dating.
A Bowhead whale is also another animal that can live for long periods of time. This whale can live for over 200 years, which is much longer than any other mammal. However, it is not always easy to tell their age, because they spend their lives in the Arctic and sub-Arctic and can outlive the researchers that study them. One way to estimate their age is to base it on fragments of harpoons left in the blubber of captured animals and there is one individual that had harpoon fragments that dated back to the 1800s. Another way researchers tell the age of bowhead whales is by using their DNA to estimate its lifespan, and scientists believe that these whales can live to the grand old age of 268.
Greenland sharks can live up to 500 years and these are the longest-living vertebrates. Like most animals that live longer they take life pretty slowly, moving at an average of 0.76 mph. These sharks grow about a cm every year, and the females may not reach sexual maturity until they are about 100 to 150 years of age. Apart from their huge size and long lifespan these sharks have been a mystery to researchers for years. It was only recent that scientists discovered a new method of estimating the age of these sharks that involves radiocarbon dating the lens of the eye. Also, new tissues are added to the lens every year and it is possible to tell the age by how much carbon isotope is present in the sharks tissues.
The jellyfish is also another animal that can live for a very long time. Jellyfish can reach old age and instead of dying, go back and start again. To many of us, this is the stuff of dreams. These animals start their life as larvae, known as planula, swirling around in the ocean, then they settle on the seafloor and become static polyps before transforming into swimming medusa. If at any stage the jellyfish experience injury or stress from changes in their environment, they can go backwards to the polyp stage and start all over again. They are able to do this over and over if they get the chance and those that die are simply killed by predators.
Also on our list of animals that live for a very long time are Longfin eels. These typically live up to 60 years of age and the longest living on record reached 106 years. Longfin Eel are native to New Zealand and Australia and spend most of their life hiding in freshwater streams before migrating to the Pacific Ocean in order to breed. They are also pretty slow-growing animals, growing only 1-2cm a year, but the females eventually grow to about 73–156 cm in length.
On average koi fish can live up to 50 years but one of their kind, the scarlet koi fish named Hanako was the longest living fish ever recorded. She died at the age of 226 years and it is still a mystery why a fish would live for such a long time.
Freshwater pearl mussels
Another animal that can live for a very long time is the Freshwater pearl mussels. They are long-living species that grow extremely slowly and that is why their average lifespan ranges from 86 to 102 years. However, their lifespan depends a lot on environmental factors such as the water quality. The oldest freshwater pearl mussel found was about 280 years old.