One of the bivalve molluscs, also known as ocean quahogs, that the researchers picked up from the Icelandic seabed turned out to be around 405 years old, and thus the world’s oldest animal.
However, after taking a closer look at the old mollusc using more refined methods, the researchers found that the animal is actually 100 years older than they thought.
This is the only picture of the ocean quahog Ming – the the longest-lived non-colonial animal so far reported whose age at death can be accurately determined.
After the photo was captured in 2007, the shells were separated to allow accurate determination of the animal’s age.
By examining the various oxygen isotopes in the growth rings, scientists can determine the sea temperature at the time when the shell came into being.) is native to the North Atlantic Ocean and is harvested commercially as a food source.
For each year of the ocean quahog’s life, a new growth ring emerges on its shell.In years with lots of food, the growth ring is usually wide, whereas a narrow ring indicates a year with less food.(Photo: Bert Aggenbach, NIOZ)Although Ming has turned out to be a full century older than first thought, the name is still relevant, as the Ming dynasty lasted for almost 300 years (1368-1644).And the really amazing thing is that the pattern in the ocean quahog’s growth rings actually recurs in tree rings.” The discovery of Ming in 2006 has inspired many researchers to try and figure out the secret behind its impressive age.One leading researcher in this field is the German animal physiologist and marine biologist Doris Abele.
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Witbaard was not involved in the study of Ming, but he has read the new article.