The 5 Animals With the Longest Lifespan

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An animal is any member of the kingdom Animalia. This essentially includes all living creatures that aren't plants and thus are unable to photosynthesize. Most members of the animal kingdom have pretty short lifespans when compared to humans, but there are a small number of animals that outlive almost everything else on the planet, aside from rocks. No one outlives a rock.

5 Bowhead Whale

Bowhead whales are possibly the oldest living mammals on Earth. They’re identified by their massive skulls, which equal a third of their body length, and by their almost entirely black bodies. If you can get one to roll over for you, you’ll see a whitish portion at the front of the lower jaw and some white patches on the belly. The bowhead whale has no teeth, which is what scientists typically use to determine a whale’s age, but based on the recovery of stone harpoon tips in bowhead whale blubber and analysis of eye tissue, scientists believe these whales can live to more than 200 years old. This long lifespan may be due to their usually solitary existence. Bowhead whales live in the Arctic regions of the world, and typically prefer to travel alone or in groups of two or three whales, keeping stress and drama to a minimum.

4 Galapagos Tortoise

The Galapagos tortoise is probably the only animal most people will recognize on this list. Many tortoises are known for having long lifespans when compared to humans, and are considered the longest-living vertebrate species on Earth. However, this slow-moving prehistoric giant has everyone beat. Galapagos tortoises generally live well over 200 years, and the oldest Galapagos tortoise in captivity reached an astounding 250 years old.

3 Ocean Quahog

The ocean quahog is a clam that lives in cold Icelandic waters. This tiny mollusk can live to be an amazing 400 years old. Pretty impressive. Perhaps its secret to longevity has something to do with the fact that it does very little. The ocean quahog spends its long life buried under sediment at the bottom of oceans all over the world, and feeds by filtering phytoplankton and organic material from the sea.

2 Antarctic Sponge

You might look at pictures of the Antarctic sponge and call shenanigans, because this animal looks like a plant and behaves like a plant. However, the Antarctic sponge is an animal. It has a skeleton that is made out of silica, which is a component of glass, and it boasts one massive lifespan. Like the ocean quahog, it spends its life immobile. This lack of any physical exertion and extremely slow growth may have a lot to do with why these creatures can live for more than 1,500 years.

1 Turritopsis Nutricula

Turritopsis nutricula is a small saltwater animal that goes through two stages in its life cycle, like most jellyfish: the immature, or polypoid stage, in which it is a small stalk with feeding tentacles, and the mature, or medusa stage, in which the polyps asexually produce jellyfish. The average jellyfish may live between a few hours to several months, but Turritopsis nutricula declared, “Forget that nonsense. I will live forever!” The Turritopsis nutricula doesn’t have a long lifespan if you measure its adult stage, but it has a unique ability that essentially makes it immortal. When this jellyfish reaches a mature adult stage it can revert back to the polyp stage, and begins life again.

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