Animals living under natural conditions rarely approach their maximum age due to very high mortality rates from infant mortality, disease, predators, bad weather, habitat destruction or competition for food and shelter. In the list below you will discover which 10 animals live the longest.
10. Mesocentrotus franciscanus
Source: Ed Bierman | CC BY 2.0 Generic
Red sea urchins are believed to be nearly immortal. They occur in the shallows of the Pacific Ocean along the west coast of North America. These small, spiny creatures have been known to live for over 200 years.
Source: René Schaubhut
Koi usually live 25-30 years, but there are reports of koi over 200 years old! A famous koi in Japan named ‘Hanako’ died in 1977 and a study of the growth rings of one of her scales revealed she was 226 years old! This made her older than the United States of America!
8. New Zealand Eel
Source: Shaun Lee | CC BY 4.0 International
Native to New Zealand and Australia, these eels often live up to 60 years old with the oldest living New Zealand eel recorded as being 106 years old! Like the Greenland shark, these fish grow very slowly, which is why they can live to be so old.
Source: Zdeněk Macháček
Macaws can live up to 60-80 years while their reproductive age ranges from 30 to 35 years. Unfortunately, the majority of macaws are now endangered in the wild and some have already become extinct due to habitat degradation and the illegal pet trade.
6. African Elephant
Source: David Clode
The largest surviving terrestrial animals have an average life expectancy of 70 years and a recent Zimbabwean study has shown that female African elephants can potentially remain fertile until their death!
5. Galapagos Giant Tortoise
The largest living turtle species that can survive well well past one hundred, the oldest of which is at 152 years old. The most famous Galapagos giant tortoise ‘Lonesome George’, a subspecies that lived on the islands, it was 100 years old and still classified as a young adult! He had become something of an ambassador for the islands off Ecuador’s coast whose unique flora and fauna helped inspire Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution.
4. Bowhead whale
Source: Bering Land Bridge National Preserve | CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic
Bowhead whales have an average lifespan of 200 years and are the second largest mammal after the blue whale. They got old when a live animal was found with a harpoon embedded in its skin over 100 years ago!
3. Greenland shark
Source: NOAA Photo Library | CC BY 2.0 Generic
These sharks can live up to 200 years, although one individual was found to be 400 years old – making it the oldest vertebrate in the world. They live so long because they grow very slowly. They grow about 1cm a year and mature at about 100 years old, well that’s a long childhood!
2. North Shrink
Source: S. Rae | CC BY 2.0 Generic
Some collected specimens are estimated to be over 400 years old. These animals have an exceptional lifespan with the highest reported age, for ‘Ming’ the mussel, being 507 years. The shellfish was so named as it is said to have been alive during the Ming dynasty.
1. Turritopsis nutricula
Source: Tony Wills | CC BY-SA 4.0 International
A very unique jellyfish that can revert to its premature state of health when exposed to stress or injury. While this means it’s biologically immortal, in practice they don’t live forever and like other animals, they get injured and eaten.