World’s oldest animal found in seabed

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NOV. 22 — He was only a young lad of 18 when the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and held the first Thanksgiving in the fall of 1620.

A team of scientific researchers dredged up a 3.5-inch Arctica Islandia clam from its peaceful seabed home north of Iceland, according to The Log, Southern California’s Boating and Fishing Newspaper. Though it died after being hauled in from a depth of 274 feet, researchers from the Bangor University School of Ocean Sciences in Wales, U.K., believed it could have lived for even longer.

The clam was dubbed Ming, and its age was determined by the number of rings on his shell. The researchers were originally collecting specimens to study how the climate has changed globally over the past 1,000 years, but Ming has taken their project in a new direction. They recently received a grant from the British chapter of an international charity called, ironically, Help the Aged to find out how Ming survived for four centuries, according to the report.

The team hopes to find out how Ming retained muscle strength, remained free of cancer, and kept its nervous system going that long. Researchers also believe there are even older clams in Ming’s patch of seabed.

The previous record for the longest-lived animal according to Guinness World Records was also held by an Arctica clam at 220 years old. Runners-up include a Galapagos turtle at 192, a sturgeon at 154, Northwest geoduck clam at 147 and a bowhead whale at 130.

— Elizabeth Ellis