A specimen of the clam species Icelandic Cyprine or ocean quahog (Lat. Arctica islandica), discovered by a group of scientists from the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University in Wales, is probably over 400 years old and thus the world’s longest-living animal.
By counting the annual growth lines in the shell, postdoctoral scientist Al Wanamaker has come to the conclusion that the clam in question, which has been living and growing on the seabed in the cold waters off northern Iceland, is between 405 and 410 years old, Science Daily reports.
The record-breaking clam was found by members of the Bangor University team of scientists, Paul Butler and James Scourse, during an expedition in Icelandic coastal waters in 2006 as part of the EU Millennium project to investigate climate changes for the last 1,000 years.
Until now a 220-year-old Arctica clam found in American waters in 1982 held the record of being the world’s oldest organism, though unofficially the record belonged to another Icelandic clam which was found in a museum and is believed to have lived for 374 years.
Clam shell growth is related to environmental conditions such as seawater temperature, salinity and food availability and Icelandic waters seem to provide the ideal conditions for extreme longevity.