The Greenland Shark is the oldest living vertebrate on the planet and it is just as scary as you could imagine. A photo of the marine predator surfaced on Twitter and social media is weighing in.
On Aug. 19, Twitter user SevenNationArmy1 shared the photo. “This is a 393-years old Greenland Shark that was located in the Arctic Ocean,” the user writes. “It’s been wandering the ocean since 1627. It is the oldest living vertebrate known on the planet.”
Since posting the photo on Twitter, the snap racked up more than 70k likes and over 19k retweets.
“Holy s–t he was around when the pyramids were built,” one user writes. “Crazy.” Another user chimed in writing, “This probably won’t get answered, but I’m so curious…how do we know it’s [sic] age?? No one was alive 393 years ago to tag it in the wild, so how??”
Greenland Shark Trivia
Dozens of users responded asking how the scientists know the animal’s age. Much like many Twitter users, scientists remain mystified about many facts regarding the massive sharks.
While much remains unknown, researchers know a handful of facts about Greenland sharks. Scientists discovered the Greenland Shark can live upwards of 400 years old. Given that the sharks prefer extreme deep water, studies on the predator can prove challenging. Therefore, the longevity questions surrounding the sharks seem unanswerable.
Cal State Fullerton marine biology graduate student Meaghan Swintek is working to learn more about the incredible species. Swintek presented her research at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America earlier this month. She claims that research on the large animals is made more difficult because of potential human-caused harm to the oceans.
“These quiet giants spend hundreds of years below the ocean, slowly roaming the depths in near- to below-freezing waters, rarely seen by the human eye,” she said. “The long-lived Greenland shark is pretty uncommon and speaks volumes to the potential damage that we have caused on their species from previous exploitation and current accidental bycatch from other fisheries.”