By Dr. Becker
Most of us think of a 100 year-old human as ancient, but the fact is humans come and go in the blink of an eye when compared to some of the world’s longest living animals.
The top prize goes to the Ocean quahog, whose recorded 400 year lifespan is nearly double the next longest-lived creature, the Bowhead whale.
Top 10 Longest-Living Animals
- Ocean Quahog: 400 years
The ocean quahog, known by several other names including mahogany clam and black quahog, is a marine bivalve mollusk. It is a species of edible clam native to the North Atlantic Ocean.
Ocean quahogs live at the subtidal level and can grow to over two inches in shell height.
- Bowhead Whale: 211 years
Bowhead whales are large round creatures with gigantic heads that account for about a third of their total body length as adults. These whales were once called Greenland whales. They live exclusively in the northern hemisphere in the Arctic and spend most of their time under ice and water.
Bowhead whales can break through sea ice nearly eight inches thick, and some Eskimos have reported seeing the whales surface through two feet of thick ice. These whales are listed as endangered on the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
- Rougheye Rockfish: 205 years
The rougheye rockfish is also known as the blackthroat rockfish and the blacktip rockfish. It can grow to a little over three feet in length, and almost 15 pounds. This fish has at least 10 spines on its lower eyelid (thus its name). It is pink, tan, or brown in color with patches of brown or a darker color.
The rougheye rockfish is a deepwater fish found in the north Pacific from the coast of Japan all the way south to San Diego, California. It inhabits depths of around 500 to 1,500 feet, with larger fish living in deeper water.
- Red Sea Urchin: 200 years
The red sea urchin inhabits the shallow waters of the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to Baja California. Its body is spherical and can grow to 7.5 inches in diameter. It is completely covered by sharp spines that grow on a hard shell (called the test) that encloses the animal.
The red sea urchin can vary in color from red to dark burgundy. It has no visible eyes or legs. Its mouth is located on its underside and is surrounded by five teeth.
- Galapagos Tortoise: 177 years
The Galapagos tortoise is the largest living species of tortoise and the 14th largest living reptile by weight. Today’s tortoises can weigh up to 550 pounds, which is actually lighter than the extinct versions that once roamed the globe.
The Galapagos tortoise inhabits just two remote archipelagos: the Galapagos, and Aldabra in the Indian Ocean. The tortoises are unlikely to migrate due to their size and extremely slow metabolism. They can spend up to 16 hours a day napping.
- Shortraker Rockfish: 157 years
The shortraker rockfish, also known as the buoy keg, snapper, and blackthroated rockfish, can grow to 48 inches in length and weigh 50 pounds, making it one of the largest rockfishes. The shortraker name refers to their knob-tipped stubby gill rakers.
In the water, these fish appear white with pink, orange, or reddish blotches. Out of water they appear orange-pink or reddish orange.
- Lake Sturgeon: 152 years
The lake sturgeon is a giant freshwater fish that is greenish-grey in color, with a pointed snout with two pairs of whisker-like organs that dangle near its mouth called barbels. The barbels help the fish locate bottom-dwelling prey.
These fish can top six feet in length and weigh nearly 200 pounds. The females outlive the males by about 100 years.
- Aldabra Giant Tortoise: 152 years
The Aldabra giant tortoise, which inhabits the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles, is one of the world’s largest tortoises.
The Aldabra’s high, domed shell is a brown or tan color. The legs are thick and heavily scaled to support its heavy body, and the neck is quite long. The largest Aldabra tortoise on record measured 47 inches in length and weighed 660 pounds.
- Orange Roughy: 149 years
The orange roughy, also called red rough, slimehead, and deep sea perch, is a good-sized deep-sea fish belonging to the slimehead family. It is found in the waters of the western Pacific, eastern Atlantic, Indo-Pacific, and the eastern Pacific.
This fish is a red brick color, but fades to a yellowish orange after death. It is slow-growing and late to mature. Orange roughy are severely threatened by overfishing.
- Warty Oreo: 140 years
The warty oreo belongs to the fish family Oreosomatidae, and is found in southern oceans. It grows to around 16 inches in length and is a dark gray color with black fins. It has a diamond-shaped body, a dorsal, and spines along the anal fin. This fish also has two rows of scales that are rather large and warty-looking and run along its sides between the pelvic and anal fins.
Warty oreos eat other fish, cephalopods, and also shrimp. They are the longest living macrovertebrates in the world.