While the average life expectancy of humans during Middle Ages was just over 30 years, today life expectancy at birth is 78 years in the US. Monaco, Japan and Singapore has the highest life expectancy in the world. Declining infant deaths, better management of diseases and widespread access to clean water have all contributed to an upswing in our longevity.
But it’s not only humans that live pretty long lives. There are many species that outlive us despite of the grim natural conditions they are living under. They are facing diseases, predators, habitat destruction, competition for food and yet some species in the animal kingdom live hundreds of years. Let’s see which ones are the longest living animals on earth!
These sea birds, not only have the longest wingspan of any bird – up to 11 feet (3.4 meters) – but they also have one of the longest lifespans among birds. These long-lived birds have reached a documented 50 years of age. The oldest known albatross is a roughly 65-year-old bird, named Wisdom. Wisdom is still giving birth to and raising healthy chicks. While small birds are lucky to live five years in the wild, large birds like albatrosses tend to live longer. They mature later and breed less frequently. Other birds like captive parrots can live into their 80’s, and flamingos can also outlive us.
Elephants have long lifespans, reaching 60–70 years of age, but the oldest elephant died at the age of 86 in the Taiwanese zoo. He was so widely revered that he eventually earned the affectionate nickname “Grandpa Lin”. The elephant served with the Chinese Expeditionary Force during the Second Sino-Japanese War and later relocated to Taiwan with the Kuomintang forces. From 1983 onward, his birthday was celebrated every year.
The beautiful colorful macaws are native to parts of Central and South America. In the wild their average life span is between 30 and 35 years. However when captive as pets or cared for at zoos, these birds can live up to 60-80 years. The oldest known macaw, Charlie was reported to be 112 years old in 2011. Sadly, the majority of macaws are now endangered in the wild and a few are already extinct because of habitat degradation and the illegal pet trade.
7. Termite Queens
While workers and soldiers live approximately 1-2 years, studies show that queen termites can live up to decades under ideal climate conditions. According to some scientists, termite queens live for 100 years. Some scientists estimate it only to 25-50 years. The queen of the subterranean species are typically the oldest termite in the colony.
6. Giant Tortoise
The magnificent giant tortoise is a characteristic reptile that is currently found on two groups of tropical islands: the Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. These magnificent animals are among the world’s longest-living creatures, with an average lifespan of 100 years or more. Jonathan (on the picture) is an Aldabra giant tortoise, and he is the world’s oldest known land animal with his ripe old age of 184.
5. Koi Goldfish
The average lifespan of koi fish is 25-30 years but there are reports of koi that have lived much longer than that. A famous koi in Japan, named Hanako died in 1977 and a study reported that she was over 200 years old. The beautiful scarlet colored Hanako became the oldest known fish ever recorded in history.
4. Bowhead Whale
Bowhead whales are the second largest mammals after the blue whale and their average lifespan is 200 years. The reason behind this extraordinary long life is the animal’s slow metabolism. Bowhead whales live in extremely cold Arctic environment which causes a low body temperature, which in turn means slow metabolism, and less damage to tissues.
3. Greenland Shark
According to a new study the Greenland shark is the longest-lived vertebrate on the planet. Living in the cold, deep waters of the North Atlantic, these sharks reach ages of 200 years old or even more. They can reach possibly to the ripe old age of 500. They live so long because they grow very slowly, about 1 cm a year and they don’t reproduce until they’re around 150 years old
2. Ocean Quahog
The ocean quahog’s life-span is an average 220 years although the oldest reported quahog clam named Ming, died at the age of 507. The clam so named as it would have been alive during the Ming Chinese Dynasty. Some collected specimens have been calculated to be more than 400 years old.
1. Immortal Jelly Fish
In 1988 a jellyfish that never truly dies, was discovered by Christian Sommer, a German marine-biology student. The jellyfish recycles itself, “aging” backward from adult stage to an immature polyp stage over and over again. It can be likened to an old man who grows younger and younger until he is again a fetus. For this reason Turritopsis dohrnii is often referred to as the Benjamin Button jellyfish. The jellyfish is biologically immortal, but in practice they don’t live forever and get injured and eaten just like other animals.