1, The Queen Termite - 50 years. One normally thinks of insects as living only a few days, or at most a few weeks, but if you're a particularly important bug all the rules go out the window. "Unmolested by predators, termite queens have been known to reach 50 years of age, and the kings (who spend pretty much their entire lives holed up in the nuptial chamber with their prolific mates) are comparably long-lived."
2. The Koi Fish - 50 years. "Some koi individuals have been reputed to live for over 200 years, but the most widely accepted estimate among scientists is 50 years, which is still a lot longer than your average fish-tank denizen."
3. The Macaw - 100 years. These beautiful birds "have human-like life spans, surviving for up to 60 years in the wild and 100 years in captivity. Ironically, even though macaws have unusually long life spans, many species are endangered, a combination of their desirability as pets and the devastation of their rainforest habitats."
4. The Cave Salamander - 100 years. This guy wins the award for longest-living amphibian. "If you were asked to identify an animal that regularly hits the century mark, the blind salamander, Proteus anguinus, would probably be close to last on your list: how can a fragile, eyeless, cave-dwelling, six-inch-long amphibian possibly survive in the wild for more than a couple of weeks? Naturalists attribute P. anguinus' longevity to its unusually sluggish metabolism—this salamander takes 15 years to mature, mates and lays its eggs only every 12 or so years, and barely even moves except when seeking out food." (Which is doesn't need very much of!)
5. Humans - 100 years. Okay that may be pushing it but people are the longest-living primates and do, pretty regularly these days, reach the century-mark. "There are about 500,000 100-year-olds in the world at any given time—that it's easy to lose sight of what an astonishing advance this represents. Tens of thousands of years ago, a lucky Homo sapiens would have been described as "elderly" if she lived into her twenties or thirties, and until the 18th century or so, average life expectancy rarely exceeded 50 years."
6. The Bowhead Whale - 200 years. "As a general rule, larger mammals tend to have comparably longer life spans, but even by this standard, the bowhead whale is an outlier: adults of this hundred-ton cetacean regularly exceed the 200-year mark. Today, there are about 25,000 bowhead whales living in the northern hemisphere, a healthy rebound in population since 1966, when serious international efforts were made to deter whalers." I'm just glad I don't have to blow out the candles on his birthday cake!
7. The Giant Tortoise - 300 years. "These turtles have lifespans that perfectly match their 500- to 1,000-pound weights: giant tortoises in captivity have been known to live longer than 200 years, and there's every reason to believe that testudines in the wild regularly hit the 300-year mark."
8. The Greenland Shark - 400 years. "If there were any justice in the world, the Greenland shark (Squalus microcephalus) would be every bit as well-known as the great white. Some of these adult sharks attain the weight of 2,000 pounds. But most notable thing about the Greenland shark is its 400-year lifespan, which can be attributed to its sub-freezing environment, its relatively low metabolism, and the protection afforded by the methylated compounds in its muscles." Heck, the Greenland shark isn't even considered mature until he reaches the century mark!
9. The Ocean Quahog - 500 years. "A 500-year-old mollusk sounds like the setup for a joke: given that most clams are virtually immobile, how can you tell if the one you're holding is living or dead? There are, however, scientists who investigate this kind of thing for a living, and they have determined that the ocean quahog, Arctica islandica, can literally survive for centuries, as demonstrated by one individual that passed the 500-year mark (you can determine the age of a mollusk by counting the growth rings in its shell)."
10. The Endolith - 10,000 years. Really? I've never heard of these things, have you? "The term "endoliths" refers to bacteria, fungi, amoebas or algae that live deep underground in the clefts of rocks. Studies have shown that the individuals of some of these colonies only undergo cell division once every hundred years, endowing them with lifespans in the 10,000-year range."
And last but not least, the longest-living critter, that scientists are currently aware of, is (drum roll please)...
11. The Turritopsis Dohrnii - potentially immortal. "There's no really good way to determine how old your average jellyfish is; these invertebrates are so fragile that they don't lend themselves well to intensive analysis in laboratories. However, no list of the longest-lived animals would be complete without a mention of Turritopsis dohrnii, a jellyfish that has the ability to revert back to its juvenile polyp stage after reaching sexual maturity, thus making it potentially immortal."
Wasn't this some interesting stuff? How many of these longest-living critters did you know would make the list? I guessed a few of them but many came as a big surprise to me.
Wednesday is Dharma Day here on the blog, so please drop by again tomorrow for another of The Dharma Frog's valuable life lesson. Whatever he has to say, I'm sure it will be well-worth your time to read. Until then, enjoy your Tuesday and I wish you