We know that God set the limit of a human lifespan after Noah’s flood to 120 years (Genesis 6:3), although some people, like Abraham and Moses, lived longer. Most of us don’t make it that long.
That limit doesn’t apply to all the animals, however.
Here’s a short list of the twelve animals believed to live the longest.*
12. SEYCHELLES GIANT TORTOISE: 190+ YEARS OLD
We’ve probably all heard about how old tortoises can get, but they’re not the oldest animals on Earth.
A 190-year-old Seychelles giant tortoise named Jonathan lives on the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. He was brought there by people from the Seychelles in 1882 when he was 50 years old.
11. RED SEA URCHINS: 200 YEARS OLD
Sea urchins are not great conversationalists, but if they were, there’s probably a lot they could share.
Researchers used to assume that red sea urchins grew quickly and had modest life spans of up to about 10 years, but as scientists studied the species in more detail, they realized these urchins continue to grow very slowly and, in some locations, will survive for centuries if they can avoid predators, disease and fishers.
10. BOWHEAD WHALE: POTENTIALLY 200+ YEARS OLD
Bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) are the longest-living mammals. The whales' exact life span is unknown, but stone harpoon tips found in some individuals prove that they comfortably live over 100 years and may live more than 200 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
9. ROUGHEYE ROCKFISH: 200+ YEARS OLD
Who would have guessed that this goldfish look-alike is one of the world’s oldest creatures?
The rougheye rockfish has a maximum life span of at least 205 years, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. They grow up to 38 inches long and eat shrimp and smaller fish.
8. FRESHWATER PEARL MUSSEL: 250+ YEARS OLD
Freshwater pearl mussels are bivalves that filter particles of food from the water. They live mainly in rivers and streams and can be found in Europe and North America. These invertebrates have long life spans thanks to their low metabolism – the oldest known freshwater pearl mussel was 280 years old. (Although even older ones may have graced dinner tables from time to time.)
7. GREENLAND SHARK: 272+ YEARS OLD
A 2016 study of Greenland shark eye tissue, published in the journal Science, estimated that these sharks can have a maximum life span of at least 272 years. The biggest shark in that study was estimated to be about 392 years old, and the researchers suggested that the sharks could have been up to 512 years old. That makes these sharks the longest-living vertebrates on Earth.
6. TUBEWORM: 300+ YEARS OLD
It may not be surprising that something that looks like a weed lives forever. (The weeds in my yard are clearly immortal.)
Tube worms are invertebrates that live on the ocean floor. Bacteria in their tubes create sugars from chemicals, which they absorb as food, according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The longest-living species are found in cold, stable environments called cold seeps, where chemicals spew from cracks or fissures in the seafloor. Their long lifespan is attributed to a slow metabolism and few natural threats.
5. OCEAN QUAHOG CLAM: 500+ YEARS OLD
One ocean quahog clam found off the coast of Iceland in 2006 was 507 years old, according to National Museum Wales in the U.K. The ancient clam was nicknamed Ming because it was born in 1499, when the Ming dynasty ruled China (from 1368 to 1644).
I may never eat at a clambake again… Nah, I probably will.
4. BLACK CORAL: 4,000+ YEARS OLD
Corals are made up of multiple identical organisms rather than being a single organism, so a coral's life span is more of a team effort.
Deep-water black coral specimens found off the coast of Hawaii have been radiocarbon dated to be 4,265 years old.
3. GLASS SPONGE: 10,000+ YEARS OLD
A 2012 study published in the journal Chemical Geology estimated that a glass sponge belonging to the species Monorhaphis chuni was about 11,000 years old. Other sponge species may be able to live even longer. Sponges are made up of colonies of animals, similar to corals.
2. TURRITOPSIS DOHRNII: POTENTIALLY IMMORTAL
Turritopsis dohrnii is called the immortal jellyfish because it can potentially live forever. Mature T. dohrnii are special in that they can turn back into polyps if they are physically damaged or starving, and then later return to their jellyfish state. Native to the Mediterranean Sea, they can repeat this feat of reversing their life cycle multiple times and, therefore, may never die of old age.
1. HYDRA: POTENTIALLY IMMORTAL
These invertebrates are largely made up of stem cells, which continually regenerate through duplication or cloning, so these animals don't deteriorate as they get older. They can regenerate lost body parts, even their heads. Unfortunately, they are also a common food source for predators.
If living forever is the goal, there’s a better way than dodging predators forever...
“For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have EVERLASTING LIFE.” John 3:16
*Oldest animals according to LiveScience https://www.livescience.com/longest-living-animals.html