Massive slow-moving predators that dwell in the cold waters of the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans are said to be the longest-living vertebrates on Earth, with one especially ancient individual estimated to be as much as 512 years old.
Recent research found that Greenland sharks can live upwards of 500 years, and don’t reach sexual maturity until they’re around 150.
But, for these remarkable creatures, longevity may come at a cost.
The species is often plagued by worm-like parasites that latch onto their eyes – and, these sharks have been known to enjoy an occasional meal of rotting polar bear carcass.
In a study published this summer, researchers used traces of carbon-14 produced by nuclear tests in the 1950s to determine the age of Greenland sharks, by examining lens crystallines in their eyes.
The largest was estimated to be about 392 years old.
But, given some uncertainty in the method, it could be anywhere from 272 to 512