The incredible story of the 507-year-old animal that scientists killed by mistake

He longest living animal hitherto documented was a iceland clam (icelandic arctic) that he lived no less than 507 years until he died in 2006. It so happens that his death was due to a more than questionable manipulation of the animal by scientists who studied it.

This species of clam is known for its exceptional longevity. In the case of this specific specimen, which its keepers called ‘Ming’ (because it was born during said Chinese dynasty), it was a specimen that He is registered in the Guinness Book of Records for being the person who has managed to live the longest. He was born none other than 1499 and, in fact, she was in good condition in 2006 until she died accidentally while undergoing tests to verify her age.

ming was discovered in that year 2006 during a scientific expedition to Iceland during a campaign to investigate climate change over the past 1,000 years. These clams are very useful for this type of study, since their shells contain very significant records of the changes that have occurred in the climate.

On the outside of their shell they have a succession of grooves that, as happens with the rings of the trunks of trees, also allow us to know its age. Each of these stretch marks corresponds to a year. In addition, these marks offer information about the changes that have occurred in the sea and in the climate, which is why they are used to find out what happened in the past in these aspects.

Researchers from Bangor University of Wales, in United Kingdom, they took some specimens to examine them in their laboratory. In 2007, an initial count of its striae showed that this mollusk could be between 405 and 410 years old.

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Died on “closer analysis”

However, the scientists felt that they needed to carry out a more thorough analysis, because they suspected that the animal could actually be even older. For it, they had to open the shells to get inside, and that was when ‘Ming’ died.

The investigators thus caused his death, involuntarily, but they managed to determine that his real age reached 507 yearsthat is, many more than those initially attributed.

But the death of ‘Ming’, who at first tried to hide, ended up being admitted by the university and unleashed a wave of protests from the population. “They were sending us emails calling us clam killers; It’s crazy,” lamented Professor James Scocourse, from the aforementioned university.

Some reports accused his team of doing their job poorly, but Scocourse categorically denied this claim.

In addition, the scientists pointed out that it is a kind of culinary use, so many people may have eaten specimens as old or older than ‘Ming’ without being aware of it: “This same species of clam is fished and consumed daily; anyone who has eaten shellfish soup in New England (USA) has probably ingested specimens of this speciesmany of which are several hundred years old,” the scientists noted.

Experts recall that these animals are threatened by ocean acidification caused by climate change, but they do not rule out that there are even older Icelandic clams on the seabed.

Another large 214-year-old clam returns to the sea

It is not the only species of clam capable of reaching a long life and also a prodigious size. A few weeks ago, a man walking along the Alligator Point beach in Florida came across an abnormally large clam. It was a specimen of the species known in Latin as mercenary mercenarythat weighed 1 kilo and 100 grams and measured no less than 15 centimeters in length. They are portentous dimensions even for this species.

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As reported by CBS, on the outside of the clam shells 214 striae were counted, indicating that the animal was born in 1809, year in which President Abraham Lincoln came into the world, which is why the clam was named ‘Abrer-Clam Lincoln’.

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“We were going to eat it, but we thought better of it and decided that it is quite special, so we are not going to kill it,” said its discoverer, who has finally returned the clam to the sea to return to its home.

In any case, and although the Ming clam appears in the Guinness Book of Records, it is suspected that there are creatures that are even longer on the face of the earth. This is the case of worms and sponges, such as hexactinellids, whose specimens can greatly exceed the age of these clams……Contact for the Environment section: [email protected]

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