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Secrets of Long Life

Mama Clam and Baby ClamNewsflash! Scientists have discovered the secret to living literally hundreds of years. The key ingredients? A sedentary lifestyle, slightly chilly climate, friendly neighbors, close proximity to the sea...

...And, uh, yeah: you have to be a clam.

The proof? Researchers from Bangor University in Wales found an Arctica islandica clam estimated at 405 to 410 years old, based on growth rings in the mollusc's shell. The new specimen shatters the previous official record for "oldest animal" of 220 years, and even the unofficial record of 374 years, both held by other Arctica clams.

The mollusc, which is thought to have lurked beneath the waves until at least the age of 405, would have been a juvenile when Galileo picked up his first telescope, Hamlet was first staged and the gunpowder plot failed to blow up King James I.
Scientists hope that studies of this species may shed light on the aging process in other animals, including humans. In the meantime, hit the jump for an abbreviated list of other animal lifespans, culled from the 2008 World Almanac (on sale November 13, for anyone who hasn't pre-ordered their copy yet).

Animal Gestation (days) Average longevity (years) Maximum longevity (yr-mo)
Hippopotamus 238 41 61
Elephant (Asian) 645 40 77
Bear, polar 240 20 45
Gorilla 258 20 54
Horse 330 20 50
Tiger 105 16 26-3
Cow 284 15 30
Lion 100 15 30
Camel 406 12 50
Cat (domestic) 63 12 28
Dog (domestic) 61 12 20
Sheep (domestic) 154 12 20
Pig (domestic) 112 10 27
Squirrel (gray) 44 10 23-6
Deer (white-tailed) 201 8 20
Rabbit (domestic) 31 5 13
Wolf (maned) 63 5 15-8
Guinea pig 68 4 8
Mouse (meadow) 21 3 4

Link: Clam claims oldest animal record (Guardian UK)

Photo: Mama Clam and Baby Clam (romulusnr)


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