The world’s oldest animal at 507 years old



This is the only picture of Ming, believed to be the world's oldest animal at 507 years old

This is the only picture of Ming, believed to be the world’s oldest animal at 507 years old. Not knowing the long life of the mollusc, researchers at Bangor University opened its shell for analysis, killing Ming in the process


Not knowing the long life of the mollusc, researchers at Bangor University opened its shell for analysis, killing Ming in the process.

 

By counting the number of rings visible on the inside shell of the mollusc, they initially calculated that Ming was an incredible 405 years old.
Scientists have now admitted they made a mistake- and now believe it to be 100 years older than first thought.

A lonely house on the shore, backed by snowy mountains

Ming’s life came to an abrupt end seven years ago when scientists from Bangor University dredged the seabed near Iceland (pictured) as part of a study into climate change


‘We got it wrong the first time and maybe we were a bit hasty publishing our findings back then,’ ocean scientist Paul Butler from Bangor University told ScienceNordic.
‘But we are absolutely certain that we’ve got the right age now.’
The problem with the original calculation was that some of Ming’s growth rings on the inside of the shell had become too compressed to be seen.
The researchers have now recalculated the age of Ming by looking at the growth rings on the outside of the shell.
The ‘new’ age means that the mollusc was born in 1499.

Growth rings

By counting the number of rings visible on the outer shell of the mollusc, researchers calculated that Ming was an incredible 507 years old


By examining the oxygen isotopes in the growth rings, scientists can find out the sea temperature at the time when the shell came into being.
What’s even more fascinating, however, are the lessons that the Ming could teach scientists about ageing.
A few years ago, charity Help the Aged, gave the marine biologists from Bangor University £40,000 to investigate why this animal lives so long.
The charity hopes the university will be able to help unlock the secret to human longevity, or at least make old age a little more palatable.
‘If, in Arctica islandica, evolution has created a model of successful resistance to the damage of ageing, it is possible that an investigation of the tissues of these real life Methuselahs might help us to understand the processes of ageing,’ said researchers Chris Richardson.

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