Long in the Tooth
August 11, 2016 4:11 PM   Subscribe

"She was born during the reign of James I, was a youngster when René Descartes set out his rules of thought and the great fire of London raged, saw out her adolescent years as George II ascended the throne, reached adulthood around the time that the American revolution kicked off, and lived through two world wars. Living to an estimated age of nearly 400 years, a female Greenland shark has set a new record for longevity, scientists have revealed."

Here's the paper in Science.

Previously.
posted by brundlefly (32 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
. (Unless she's still alive, it wasn't 100% clear.)
posted by Stoatfarm at 4:25 PM on August 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


What’s more, with adult female Greenland sharks known hit sexual maturity only once they reach more than four metres in length, the scientists found that females have to clock up an age of around 150 years before they can produce young.
Wow, that's crazy.
posted by Sangermaine at 4:25 PM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


"What’s more, with adult female Greenland sharks known hit sexual maturity only once they reach more than four metres in length, the scientists found that females have to clock up an age of around 150 years before they can produce young."

That's amazing!
posted by Kevin Street at 4:26 PM on August 11, 2016


I think the sharks are still alive, Stoatfarm. It says in one of the captions that "the sharks were part of a tag-and-release program." Obtaining a tissue sample from the middle of the eye would not be pleasant, but they could probably get it with a needle or something that didn't cause permanent damage.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:30 PM on August 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


These are the ones that frequently get blinded by lampreys who eat the shark's eyes, yes?
posted by scruss at 4:30 PM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


scruss, I don't know about lampreys but I do know a lot of them are blinded by this little crustacean that tries to live in their eyes.
posted by brundlefly at 4:33 PM on August 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


welp, this thread went from FASCINATING to OMG NIGHTMARE FUEL almost immediately
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 4:52 PM on August 11, 2016 [30 favorites]


Hmm, near the end of the article, a skeptical scientist points out that the Carbon-14 they're testing comes from nutrients provided by the shark's mother.
posted by christopherious at 4:58 PM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


That doesn't disprove the method, although he says that it introduces some uncertainties. I guess his thinking is that carbon-14 might not transfer from the mother shark to the baby in a completely transparent way. The mother might build up a lot of carbon-14 and only give some of it to the baby, or maybe even the reverse.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:08 PM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Imagine having something stuck in your eye for years but you can't get it out because you have no hands. Also you are a shark so your problem-solving skills are limited to swimming and biting things.
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:15 PM on August 11, 2016 [23 favorites]


Though to be fair you are really very good at swimming and biting things.
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:17 PM on August 11, 2016 [16 favorites]


I'm not a great swimmer but I'm very good at biting things, especially if they have sprinkles on them.
posted by teponaztli at 5:53 PM on August 11, 2016 [10 favorites]


I'm interested in this shark's teeth. Was she, in fact, able to keep them pearly white?
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:19 PM on August 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


Writing in the journal Science, Nielsen and an international team of researchers describe how they set about determining the age of 28 female Greenland sharks, collected as by-catch during scientific surveys between 2010 and 2013.

By-catch. I'd like to see more about this survey. Seems like if they were radio-carbon dating their eyeballs, they probably didn't survive the process. Anybody have full access to the Science article, or any info on the survey mentioned & how it was conducted?
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:39 PM on August 11, 2016


Imagine having something stuck in your eye for years but you can't get it out because you have no hands.

Not only that, but having to navigate the horror of the deep sea while not quite seeing right. I mean, it's bad enough not being able to see. But have you seen what you can run into down there??
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:15 PM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there are these little critters that will eat your eye!
posted by VTX at 7:17 PM on August 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


As its really dark down there, eyes aren't much use. Sharks sense pretty well without eyes.
posted by scruss at 7:24 PM on August 11, 2016


"Pleased to meet you"

[Fin rises, trails a listing Carrack]

"Hope you guess my name, oh yeah"
posted by clavdivs at 7:54 PM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


She was born during the reign of James I,

JAMES VI.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:20 PM on August 11, 2016 [15 favorites]


I don't know about lampreys but I do know a lot of them are blinded by this little crustacean that tries to live in their eyes.
posted by brundlefly at 9:33 on August 12


Approxynomistericalriffic.
posted by No-sword at 9:49 PM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


"What’s more, with adult female Greenland sharks known hit sexual maturity only once they reach more than four metres in length, the scientists found that females have to clock up an age of around 150 years before they can produce young."

That's amazing!


I guess if you are up at the top of the food chain you can afford it, but it still sounds pretty weird that waiting around for 150 years before making more sharks makes evolutionary sense.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:06 PM on August 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


Here is an earlier posting on Greenland sharks: link
posted by jadepearl at 10:10 PM on August 11, 2016


By-catch. I'd like to see more about this survey. Seems like if they were radio-carbon dating their eyeballs, they probably didn't survive the process. Anybody have full access to the Science article, or any info on the survey mentioned & how it was conducted?

From the methods part of the Science paper:

"Samples were taken from specimens with lethal injuries caused by conspecifics or fishing equipment. Sharks were euthanized immediately after capture by direct spinal cord transection."


So she was the oldest known living vertebrate.

.
posted by antiwiggle at 1:50 AM on August 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Somebody's grant money is running out.
posted by Optamystic at 2:19 AM on August 12, 2016


god what an irrelevant bunch of human history markers that list is. Greenland sharks were neutral in BOTH world wars and they never recognized the legitimacy of the new American government that I ever heard of. this shark survived the sea plagues, the third sea purge, the great greenland shark reorganization and like six different walrus incursions that I don't even know the right names of cause I never went to shark school. obviously nobody at the Guardian did either.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:21 AM on August 12, 2016 [18 favorites]


but it still sounds pretty weird that waiting around for 150 years before making more sharks makes evolutionary sense.

I mean waiting around for 15 years probably sounds pretty weird to a squirrel though
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:10 AM on August 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


Yeah, and we never would have found this out if we hadn't invented nuclear weapons, so.... there. I guess.
posted by Hypatia at 7:13 AM on August 12, 2016


"Samples were taken from specimens with lethal injuries caused by conspecifics or fishing equipment. Sharks were euthanized immediately after capture by direct spinal cord transection."


So she was the oldest known living vertebrate.


I hate what we're doing to the oceans. I buy farm-raised shrimp or trout once or twice a year, & don't feel too good about that either because it's such an environmental disaster.

.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:21 AM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I mean waiting around for 15 years probably sounds pretty weird to a squirrel though

Eh, ok but taking 15 years to develop language, cognitive skills, social skills and so on sounds reasonable compared to taking 150 years to develop the skill of swimming real slow and getting your eyes eaten by bugs.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:58 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


This kind of reminds me of the jerk who cut down the then-oldest-known tree to count the rings.
posted by tavella at 1:50 PM on August 12, 2016


"So she was the oldest known living vertebrate."

Crap. That casts something of a pall over this. No wonder they didn't mention it in the Guardian article.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:03 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Crap. That casts something of a pall over this. No wonder they didn't mention it in the Guardian article.

That's poor reporting then. The BBC article on the sharks did mention it.
posted by antiwiggle at 1:44 AM on August 13, 2016


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