As medical science progresses, us humans, as a race, find ourselves living longer and longer lives.
But while we have medicine and the all the benefits of modern living to help us expand our lifespans, there are still several species of wild animals that outdo us, living for almost impossibly long periods, despite being susceptible to the pressures of sickness and predation.
Who are these animals? How long to they live, and which one lives the longest?
Most importantly – are there immortal animals living in the world today? And could they help us become immortal one day, too?
Read on to find out.
30. African Bush Elephants (70 or More)
The first animal on our list is the African bush elephant, which, in addition to its long lifespan, is also a record breaker in another field; it is the largest and heaviest land animal living today.
The African bush elephant reaches a shoulder height of 13 feet – nearly 4 meters – and a weight of around 11 tons.
But it’s not just size and weight that make African bush elephants impressive; these intelligent, social animals can reach the age of 70 – and sometimes even more.
What’s surprising is that, unlike many other animals, bush elephants’ lifespans are significantly longer in the wild than they are in captivity.
At 70, the oldest living African Bush Elephant had probably lived through the entirety of the cold war.
29. Sablefish (90+ years)
Sablefish, also known as “black cod” by chefs and restauranteurs, can be found in the Pacific Ocean, where they reproduce in the deep before swimming up to the surface as small fry. Upon maturation, they return to the deep, where they are found at staggering depths of 300 to 2,700 m (980 to 8,860 ft). They are very long-lived fish, with some individuals even surpassing 90 years in age.
Sablefish are considered a delicacy worldwide – a fact which has contributed to their overfishing over the years, although happily, in recent years, thanks to responsible fisheries management, their population is doing much better.
In 1998, a Sablefish of 94 years of age was recorded. When it was born, Theodore Roosevelt was elected president for the second time. The US has had 17 presidents during its lifetime!
28. American Lobsters (Past a 100 years)
You might have heard that American lobsters are immortal – but that’s not exactly true. While scientists think that lobsters have negligible senescence – that is, detrimental symptoms that come with aging – they do have a limited lifespan. Still, that lifespan is quite impressive, with some specimens having reached over a hundred years.
It is believed that this is made possible thanks to both the cold Atlantic waters in which they live, which slow down their metabolisms, as well as due to the fact that they are capable of shedding their exoskeletons as they grow.
So, an American Lobster that had been living for a 100 years was born the same year as Eva Gabor and Primo Levi.
27. Olm Salamanders (Past a 100 years)
The olm salamander is an animal strewn in legend. Living in underground rivers and streams beneath the mountains of Central and Southeastern Europe, the olms were believed to be dragon-spawn for centuries, as specimens of the blind animals were washed out from under the mountains during floods.
Olms display many characteristics which differentiate them from other salamanders, including the frilly gills which they retain from their larval developmental stages, their extremely underdeveloped eyes – and their very long age. It is estimated that olm can live past a hundred years – an impressive age for anyone, but especially for salamanders, which usually don’t make it past 15.
The oldest living Olm Salamandra could have been alive during the roaring 1920s.
26. White Sturgeons (104 years)
White sturgeons, native to the North American West Coast, are, much like their European cousins, prized for their roe, which is processed and turned into expensive caviar.
But caviar is by far one of the least interesting thing about these amazing fish.
Sturgeons, which live in lakes and estuaries along the coast, are scaleless, their bodies covered by smooth, bony plates instead. Their actual bones, however, are, much like those of sharks’, made of cartilage. Sturgeons can grow up to 20 feet (over 6 meters) in length, and 816 kilograms (1,799 lb.) in weight.
The oldest reported age of a white sturgeon in 104 years, although scientists believe they can actually grow older than that.
The oldest white sturgeon alive had lived through WWI.
25. Redbanded Rockfish (106 years)
The redbanded rockfish, also known by more colorful names such as “bandit,” “canary” and “convict” thanks to its striped skin, can be found in deep waters off the West Coast of North America, from Alaska and all the way down to San Diego.
Because the species is found in very different waters, the time it takes redbanded rockfish to mature differs depending on the temperature of its surroundings. While bandits can reach maturity at the age of 3 in warm California waters, up in Alaska they may only reach maturity at the age of 19. This slowed-down aging process makes them a very long-lived fish, and specimens have been reported to reach an age of 106 years.
If the oldest Redbanded Rockfish is now 107 years old, it was born the same year the Titanic had sunk. Being from a different area than where the famous ship had found its end, although it’s impossible, we still kind of imagine that maybe this old fish remembers that historic moment.
24. Blue Whales (110 years)
Blue whales are the largest animals to ever inhabit this planet – at least, the largest that we know of.
Everything about blue whales is staggering, from their car-sized heart, to their amazing length (nearly twice as long as the Hollywood sign!) to their colossal tongue, which weighs as much as an adult elephant – so it seems fitting that their age would be staggeringly long as well; blue whales can live up to 110 years in the wild.
Blue whales that are living as long as 110 years have lived through both World Wars.
23. Shortspine Thornyhead (115 years)
There are many fish in the sea, but it seems that the rockfish family is exceptional in its long lifespan.
Out of the rockfish family, the shortspine thornyhead is one of the longest-living species, reaching 115 years in some documented cases.
This long life comes with a price; rockfish are fairly slow growing. Some only reach maturity at the age of 25 – which means that if they are overfished, their population can radically plummet, and only bounce back after a quarter of a century, if not more. Luckily, the shortspine population is doing just fine.
An old Shortspine Thornyhead could have lived through 19 US presidents!
22. Beluga Sturgeon (118 years)
With their unique snout and massive bodies, beluga sturgeons are one of the most iconic fish species in the world. Often associated with wealth and luxury, beluga sturgeons are the animals responsible for the creation of one of the most expensive foods on earth: beluga caviar.
The reason for caviar’s excessive price is directly tied to the fish’s long lifespan; sturgeons take years to mature, and then many years more before they are ready to lay their eggs. The only way to harvest their roe is by cutting them open, and so, each sturgeon needs to be given time to grow. Considering some reach ages of 118 years, that’s a very long-term investment!
A very old Beluga Sturgeon may have been born in 1901, the same year Queen Victoria had died.