The World's Longest Lived Animals

Despite advances in medical technology and healthcare, the longest any person has lived is to 120 years old. The average lifespan of a person in the US is only 79 years old. Some animals can live WAY past those numbers though. A few can live for hundreds of years. Which animals? You can probably guess a few of them, but some of them may surprise you. There are even a few of them who are nearly immortal! How do they do it? Why do some of them live longer than others?  Read on and find out!

Grey Whales

Image credits: WDC

Image credits: WDC

Grey whales are one of the shortest-lived whales, and they only live to around age 77. That's still a very long time! They only live in the Pacific Ocean. Like most whales, they are massive creatures. They can weigh over thirty tons and be over 100 feet in length!

Red Sea Urchins

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Red Sea Urchins aren't necessarily red, although the one in this example is. They are named after their main habitat, the Red Sea. There are a lot of interesting creatures in the Red Sea, but the urchins are very common. They have lifespans that vary widely, but the oldest is thought to be 200 years old. That means they were born in the same year as Queen Victoria and Herman Melville!

Fin Whales

Image credits: World Wildlife Fund

Image credits: World Wildlife Fund

Fin whales may not be as large as blue whales, but they might live longer. Fin whales are named for the appendage on their dorsal side, which resembles a shark fin. They can live up to 120 years old. The Fin Whale was once hunted to near-extinction, but the moratorium placed on hunting them means that their population has begun to grow again. They aren't the longest-lived whales though. We'll get to them in a little bit.

Koi

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

One of the longest-lived animals on earth might be living in your backyard, or possibly at the restaurant down the street. The Koi fish usually live to age 30 in the US and other places. In Japan, they have been known to last up to 50 years. The longest-lived koi is named Hanko, and she's been living at Nagoya Women's College in Japan for 226 years. There is some doubt as to whether that number is accurate, but there have been several scientific studies done there that have all led to that conclusion.

Sea Sponges

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

While it's impossible to tell how old some sponges are, the oldest ones that are known are 15,000 years old. They were born right after the last ice age, and have been around ever since. Sponges are extremely simple organisms, and they require very little in the way of maintenance. 

The Greenland Shark

Image credits: Vice

Image credits: Vice

This water creature is also called Somniosus microcephalus, the gurry shark, grey shark, or eqalussauq (it is his Kalaallisut name). It comes from the family of sharks known as Somniosidea, which means “sleeper sharks”. They can mostly be found in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. They have the longest lifespan of any vertebrate animal. It’s estimated to be between 300 and 500 years.

Splitnose Rockfish

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

This is a fairly rare species of rockfish found in the pacific northwest. The splitnose rockfish is one of the smaller rockfish varieties. Unlike most others, they aren't usually fished commercially. They live for about 84 years, and they are just edged out in the rockfish category by their next closest cousins...

Bowhead Whale

Image credits: Minden Pictures/Martha Holmes

Image credits: Minden Pictures/Martha Holmes

Most whales have very long lifespans. However, the prize for the longest goes to the Bowhead Whale. They have the longest mouths of any of the whales too: up to 25 feet. Bowhead Whales are the longest-lived of any mammal, and examples have been found that are 211 years old. They are a cold-weather animal with slow metabolisms, which explains their longevity. They are also not hunted as much as other whales.

Eastern Box Turtles

Image credits: Flickr/Jeff Rowton

Image credits: Flickr/Jeff Rowton

Eastern box turtles have an interesting property to their long lives. They don't experience senescence, which means that they don't have any of the normal effects of aging. Instead, they just grow bigger and bigger. Now, normally, they only live about 40 years, which is short by turtle standards. However, some Eastern Box Turtles have lived for as long as 140 years in the wild. They can also regenerate their shells, which is unique and allows them to survive some wounds that other turtles can't.

Quahog Clams

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

No, these have nothing to do with Family Guy. Quahog clams are found all over the ocean, and again, mostly in cold places. In 2006, scientists began studying different species of clams, and they found one quahog that was 507 years old. This clam wasn't especially large or remarkable, so it is possible that there are even older ones out there! That takes the clam all the way back to the Ming Dynasty in China!

Hydras

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

You may know the story of the hydra from Greek mythology. Cut off one head and two grow in its place. Well, real hydras do exist, and they are immortal. They are very small, only half an inch long, and they continually regenerate their bodies' cells. Most of the cells in their bodies are stem cells too, which means that there is no reason for them to EVER stop growing. They aren't the only "immortal" creature though...

Shortraker Rockfish

Image credits: International Fishing News

Image credits: International Fishing News

Rockfish of all species have very long lives. The shortraker rockfish lives around 157 years, and the oldest ones have been 175 years old. That's old enough to have lived through the American Civil War! Age on a rockfish can be determined by its rings, just like on a tree. The method isn't 100% reliable, but it gives the best guess.

Rougheye Rockfish

Image credits: Herald Weekly

Image credits: Herald Weekly

The Rougheye Rockfish lives even longer than its cousin, the shortraker. It's a smaller fish with darker pigmentation. Like its cousin, it tends to live in cold environments and they can live a very long time. Scientists estimate that a Rougheye Rockfish can live up to 200 years, and they have found some examples that prove it. 200 years is a very long time!

Warty Oreo

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Warty Oreos are not cookies that have sat around too long. In fact, their name derives from their Latin name oreosomatidae. In any event, they live very long lives. They are bottom feeders on the ocean floor and have very few predators. Like a lot of deepwater fish, they can live a long time; up to 140 years in the oldest ones observed. 

Galapagos Tortoise

Image credits: National Geographic

Image credits: National Geographic

If you think of long-lived animals, chances are that you first think of Galapagos tortoises. There's a good reason for that: they live a long, long time! The word "galapagos" means "torotoise" in Spanish, and so the islands are actually named after their most famous inhabitants. These tortoises can live to be as old as 200 years, although the oldest known one was 170 when she died in 2006.

European Pond Turtles

Image credits: All Turtles

Image credits: All Turtles

Everyone knows that turtles and tortoises live a long time. Most of the time when we talk about long-lived turtles, we are talking about giant box tortoises though. Even the smaller ones can live for a long time. The small European pond turtle can live for 120 years. If you ever decide to have a turtle as a pet, just remember that it's a lifelong commitment, and they might actually outlive you!

Redbanded Rockfish

Image credits: Sport Fishing Magazine

Image credits: Sport Fishing Magazine

These red scaly fish can be found all along the west coast of North America. They are also called "bandit fish" because of their distinctive markings. The interesting thing about the Redbanded Rockfish is that they mature at different times depending on the temperature of the water. The ones in Alaska can take 19 years to fully mature, and they live the longest. The oldest one found was 107 years old. That means that it could have seen the Titanic sink!

White Sturgeons

Image credits: National Maritime Historical Society

Image credits: National Maritime Historical Society

White Sturgeons are bred in the US for their roe, which is a particularly nice version of caviar. Sturgeons are a bit of an odd fish though. They don't have scales, their bones are made from cartilage, and their bodies are surrounded by actual bony plates. They are really large too; up to 20 feet in length. They also can live over 100 years. Scientists estimate that they can live for much longer, but the oldest found has been 104.

Mediterranean Spur-Thighed Tortoises 

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Not surprisingly, we're going to add another tortoise to the list. At this point, we should probably explain the difference between a turtle and tortoise, since they are often confused. A turtle is an amphibious creature that lives in the water. Tortoises live exclusively on land. The Mediterranian Spur-Thigh tortoise is a long-lived example. They can live up to 130 years. These are still small ones too!

Blue Whales

Image credits: National Geographic

Image credits: National Geographic

The Blue Whale is, of course, gigantic. They are the largest animals of any kind in the world, and they have a very long lifespan to match. Everything about a blue whale is enormous. Even their tongues weigh as much as an African Elephant! The longest-lived blue whales that we know of have lived for 110 years. That puts them through both World Wars!

Shortspine Thornyhead

Image credits: World Life Expectancy

Image credits: World Life Expectancy

We've already talked about one rockfish, and here's another. Rockfish tend to be the longest-lived genus of fish, and the Shortspine Thornyhead is no exception. They live up to 115 years. There is a catch with the rockfish though. People love to eat them, and they take quite a while to mature. So when they are overfished, they disappear faster and they take a long time to come back. They are doing fine right now, but 25 years ago that wasn't true.

China Rockfish

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons/Jeanne Luce

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons/Jeanne Luce

We're going to be talking a lot about rockfish in this article because all of the species can live a long time. Despite their name, China rockfish usually live off the west coast of the US. They have a distinctive appearance and the yellow patches go over their entire bodies. They only weigh around two pounds but are a popular target of commercial fishermen. They can live to be 80 years old!

American Lobsters

Image credits: Smithsonian Magazine

Image credits: Smithsonian Magazine

There is a myth surrounding the American Lobster: people think that they are immortal. This is not true, but they do live very long lives. The combination of living in a cold environment and the shedding of their exoskeletons probably helps their long lifespan. Lobsters have been found that are over 100 years old. That's quite impressive if you consider that they were actually born before Kirk Douglas or Olivia De Havilland!

Orange Roughy

Image source: Under The Sea

Image source: Under The Sea

Orange Roughies are found all over the world. They're one of the most commonly eaten fish and as such, are often overfarmed. They begin mating at 20-30 years of age, so once they are overfarmed, it becomes difficult to get their population up. It has taken careful fishing management and commercial farms to keep their population stable. They can live to be 150 years old though! 

Rosethorn Rockfish

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Another smaller rockfish species, these rainbow-colored fish can live up to 87 years! They are a rockfish species that mostly lives at the bottom of the ocean, once again in the pacific northwest. They aren't fished nearly as much as the others, and they live for 88 years. Rockfish are really crazy, and we could list every single species of them. They all live a long time!

African Bush Elephant

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

The African Bush Elephant is the largest land animal. They can be 13 feet tall and weigh nearly 11 tons. That's a huge creature, and they also happen to live very long lives. They can live up to 70 years in the wild. Unlike a lot of animals on this list, they live longer in the wild than they do in captivity. 70 years is a long time for any animal; it's nearly as long as the Cold War!

Beluga Sturgeon

Image credits: Pinterest

Image credits: Pinterest

If you like caviar, chances are that Beluga caviar is at the top of your list. These sturgeons can live up to 118 years, and it can take up to 50 years for them to start producing roe, which is made into caviar. This is the reason for the cost of beluga caviar. It takes forever to get started, and it's a huge investment for a commercial farm. They have to be cut open and the eggs extracted too, so the reproduction process is slow.

Baird's Beaked Whale

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Baird's Beaked Whales are a four-toothed whale, and there are only two varieties of those in the world. The Baird's Beaked Whale lives off of the pacific coast of the US, and they are one of the smallest varieties of whales, only reaching up to 9.75 meters. They do have teeth, and they often use them to fight. These whales can live to be 84 years old, so the teeth come in handy!

Lamellibrachia Tube Worms 

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

These odd-looking creatures might look like flowers or some other sort of plant. They're actually an animal native to the deep-sea cold seeps, which are the harshest environments on Earth. Their long lives are due to the cold water, but also because they make their own food in a manner similar to photosynthesis. They have bacteria inside of them that helps them to make their own food. They are very large creatures, up to ten feet in length, and can live up to 250 years.

Orcas  

Image credits: Whale Research Center/Mark Malleson

Image credits: Whale Research Center/Mark Malleson

Orcas, are a long-lived species. They're a bit different than the other whale species that we've seen. They are meat-eaters, and a bit smaller than the other whales. Of course, smaller is relative. These guys only weigh 4 tons, which is like a feather compared with some others. Anyway, orcas live up to 90 years. They are starting to make a comeback in the pacific northwest.

Aren't these creatures amazing? It's crazy that most of them are sea animals. Let us know what you think about them! If you liked this article, share it with your friends who enjoy discovering new things online. See you next time!

Source: Wikipedia, OceanaNational Zoo, The Red Cape, Life in Freshwater, AFSC, IOL, Pet GuideWDFWMonterey Bay AquariumReptile CentreWorld WildlifeWDFWPARLFishbaseNature,  ACS OnlineNASCalifornia Sea GrantNational GeographicFisheries NOAAThis FishAustralian MuseumNational GeographicImmortal JellyfishBackyard Buddies90Minutes