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Ancient Shark is Said to Be World's Oldest Living Vertebrate

  • Written by Prensa Latina
  • Published in Science
shark believed to be the oldest living vertebrate shark believed to be the oldest living vertebrate
London, Apr 23 (Prensa Latina) A shark believed to be the oldest living vertebrate has been discovered, and it could be older than Shakespeare.
The massive Greenland shark was found in the North Atlantic ocean by scientists who estimated it is up to 512 years old. They used its size to suggest its year of birth is as early as 1505, when future King Henry VIII ended his engagement to Catherine of Aragon.

Greenland sharks, which only grow 1cm a year, have been known to live for hundreds of years.

Experts used its length, a staggering 18ft ,and radiocarbon dating to determine its age as between 272 and 512 years old, according to a study in journal Science.

It was the oldest of a group of 28 Greenland sharks analysed for the study.

The shark would have been alive during major world events like the founding of the United States, the Napoleonic wars and the sinking of the Titanic.

Greenland sharks mostly eat fish but they have never been observed hunting. They have been found to have remains of reindeer and even horses in their stomachs.

Their flesh is considered a delicacy in Iceland, but it is also toxic if not treated.

A separate study of its bones and tissues by the Arctic University of Norway may also provide clues about the effects of climate change and pollution over a long time span.

Already the researchers have mapped out all the 16ft shark's mitochondrial DNA, genetic material held in tiny battery-like bodies in cells that supply energy.

Now they are working on DNA from the cell nucleus, which contains the bulk of the animal's genes.

The 'long life' genes could shed light on why most vertebrates have such a limited life span, and what determines life expectancy in different species, including humans.

Many were so old they pre-dated the industrial revolution and the introduction of large-scale commercial fishing.


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