The U.S. just had its birthday, which means it’s been 244 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. What if I told you that in the Arctic Ocean, there are sharks swimming around today who were alive in 1776? And before you ask, yes, the very same sharks.
The Greenland shark is an oceanic predator with a lifespan of at least 272 years and could be as long as 500 years, making this animal the longest living vertebrate on the planet. The Greenland shark was a lesser-known species of sharks until 2016, when its extreme longevity was revealed. The finding that they live in the deep, dark polar waters for hundreds of years has captured the imagination of the world and the attention of scientists. How does an animal born in Thomas Jefferson’s time still patrol the deep today?
This extremely long life is particularly interesting with respect to theheart because in people heart disease goes along with aging. In fact, old age is the No. 1 predictor for heart disease in humans, more than smoking, inactivity and obesity.