An ancient shark believed to be 512 years old has been discovered by scientists, the world's oldest known vertebrate.
When Danish scientists spotted a 5.4 meter female Greenland shark roaming the North Atlantic Ocean, they knew she had to be hundreds of years old.
Greenland sharks are believed to grow only one centimeter a year.
The shark is the world's oldest creature with a backbone, and may have been born as early as 1505 — when Istanbul under the Ottomans was just 52 years old.
Using radiocarbon dating, scientists analyzed the eye lenses of 28 Greenland sharks, finding the oldest sample to be 392 years old.
Since radiocarbon dating has 95 percent accuracy, the shark could be between 272 and 512 years in age.
If the shark really is that old, it would have lived through the reigns of Süleyman the Magnificent and Napoleon Bonaparte.
Greenland sharks have the longest known life span of any vertebrate species. Amazingly, they do not reach sexual maturity until 156 years of age, though some may reach it by 134 years.
In Iceland, their meat is considered a delicacy, though it contains a toxin that causes a state similar to drunkenness when eaten.
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