Long Lifespans

Which mammal has the longest lifespan, often living for more than 200 years?  

And the answer: Bowhead whale.

Photo credit: WWF

Also known as the Arctic whale, Bowhead whales are considered to be the longest living mammals. Some have been found with the tips of spears still lodged in their flesh, from failed attempts by whalers more than 200 years ago. Scientists believe that their cold isolated marine environment helps them lead a long life.

While humans have an "absolute limit" of 150 years, many creatures of the animal kingdom far exceed our lifetimes. The Bowhead whale might be the longest living mammal, but those of other groups can live even longer. Prepare to be wowed with this list of some of the longest living animals in the world.

  1. Galapagos Giant Tortoise. This mighty land creature can live well over age 100, with the oldest living tortoise reaching as old as 152 years old! Giant tortoises of this kind enjoy a very slow pace of life, munching grass and leaves as they bask in the sun.
  2. Red Sea Urchin. Though they might appear pretty poky and inanimate, these sea-dwellers can live over 200 years without showing signs of age. Interestingly, these creatures are more likely to be eaten by a predator than die of natural causes. In fact, they can even produce young and remain healthy well into "old age."
  3. Greenland Shark. These mysterious creatures can live as long as 500 years old, and are the longest-living vertebrate. Moving at an average of 0.76 mph, Greenland sharks grow about a centimeter every year, and females may not reach sexual maturity until they are 100 to 150 years old!
  4. Immortal Jellyfish. Yes, it is exactly as it sounds: these fascinating creatures are able to essentially regress to the polyp stage (basically, becoming young again) anytime they experience threat or stress. Learn more about them here.

Which long-living animal would you choose to be? Learn more about them below.


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