Ming the clam, world’s oldest animal, was actually 507 years.
World’s Oldest Animal was an ocean quahog and it was 507 years old.
Ming, the clam (Arctica islandica, an ocean quahog) is popularly considered as the World’s Oldest Animal at 507 years old. The claim, as such, is a fact with some missing information as detailed below.
Discovery of Ming
Ming the Mollusc (phylum of invertebrate animals) was discovered in 2006 from the bottom of the North Atlantic waters along with 200 other clams by researchers from Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences, Wales, UK, as part of an expedition to Iceland. Initial news reports said that Ming, the clam died when scientists pried it open to find out its age, that is not the case however. Unaware of the Ming’s significance, they put all the 200 clams frozen on board as a usual practice to take them home, which is when all of them died accidentally, said a researcher Paul Butler. The team was actually studying the climate changes over the past 1,000 years.
At the time of discovery, scientists determined Ming’s age to be between 405 and 410 years old, by counting the number of rings on the clam’s shells called growth lines. The discovery of Ming even made it into the Guinness World Records — as Oldest mollusc. However, more recent studies from the same team indicate that Ming was, in fact, 507 years old.
The researchers initially counted the number of rings in the interior of the shell, which is protected by ligaments. But since Ming was very old, the rings were compacted to the size of a few millimeters. So to determine the Ming’s age more accurately, they counted the rings on the outside of the shell, and used carbon-14 testing to confirm the age. Ming’s shell measured 3.42 inches long, 1.89 inches wide and 2.85 inches high (with a max height of 3.23 inches). The clam was named Ming because it was born in 1499 when Ming Dynasty was in power in China; just seven years after Columbus discovered the Americas. But more importantly, Ming the clam is not the World’s Oldest Animal to be precise, it is the longest-lived [multi-cellular] non-colonial animal so far reported, whose age at death can be accurately determined.
Existence of Older Animals
Scientists say that Ming’s long life is due to its incredibly slow metabolism. The researcher Paul Butler even says that Ming may have met a premature end, so they are fairly sure that longer lived individuals of the species can exist and remain to be found.
Glass Sponge (Hexactinellids)
As indicated above, Ming may not even be the world’s oldest animal, according to definition of ‘animal’. The Glass Sponge (Hexactinellida) is estimated to reach an age of up to 15,000 years, with some even as old as 23,000 years. These Sponge creatures are long lived, but their exact age is hard to measure. The cup-shaped sponges (see picture above) are relatively uncommon and seen in Antarctic and Northern Pacific waters.
Hoax or Fact:
Fact with some missing information.
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