Scientists inadvertently killed the oldest living creature in the world. Now more research has revealed that the creature was, in fact, older than what was first thought and it was 507 years of age.
The creature in question was a type of clam that lived in deep-sea called an ocean quahog. It was discovered when it was dredged alive out of the North Atlantic Ocean close to Iceland by researchers in 2006. As they would normally do scientists put the animal in a freezer, but they did not know how old it was. It was only after scientists in the laboratory at the Bangor University studied it and said that it was 400 years old.
This put the animal in the Guinness Book of World Records. However, sadly, the animal who the scientists had given the name of Ming the Mollusc had died. The animal was given the name due to the Chinese dynasty that was on the throne when the animal had been born.
Mollusc Was 100 Years Older Than What Was Originally Thought
When scientists had examined the animal using methods that were more refined, they found that it was 100 years than what scientists had first thought. Dr. Paul Butler working at the University School of Ocean Sciences admitted that when trying to determine the age of the animal the first time around they had made a mistake. He went on to say that they had been too hasty when publishing findings but this time they are sure that they have determined the age correctly.
The shell of the quahog grows each year layer by layer during the summer months when there is plenty of food and the weather is generally warm. This means that once the shell is cut in half the scientists can easily count the lines, just in the same way as they can with trees. The trees can then be given a date from the number of rings in their trunks.
Mollusc Was Alive At Time Columbus Discovered America
The growth rings are generally found in two places; these are on the outer of the shell and are at the hinge, this is where both halves of the shell meet. Scientists are of the mind that the hinge is the best place to count the rings to determine the age of the animal. This is due to the fact that the outside elements do not get to the inner hinge. The researchers counted the rings at the hinge to come to the original date. However, they said that due to the fact that the mollusc was so old, a lot of the rings had been compressed. When they looked a second time at the outer shell and counted the rings they found there was more. This meant that the mollusc would have been born in 1499. The animal would have been seven years old when Columbus found America and was born before Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon, his first wife, in 1509.
Scientists have said that they are able to study the layers of the clam to discover about water masses from many thousands of years ago and the sea temperatures. The associate professor of the University of Denmark, Jan Heinemeier, had helped to in the dating of Ming the Mollusc. It was said that the fact that they had managed to see and inspect an animal that was 507 years old was fascinating. One of the most exciting things was everything that they could learn about the mollusc when studying it. It is just a shame that they killed it and it wasn’t able to continue living and growing older