Friday, 9 March 2012

Who Wants To Live Forever?

The problem with being in the second month of the survey is that there are very few topics that have not already been covered in this blog! However we got lucky today when we found a couple of rather special organism in a grab sample.

The Ocean Quahog (Arctica islandica) may have the longest lifespan of any animal known. While they mature at 10 to 32 years, individuals more than 100 years old are common. The species seems to experience limited senescence (biological ageing) with the oldest specimens found being in the order of 225, 268, and 374 years old!

Arctica islandica - Photo: Hillewaert, Hans

The Ocean Quahog is of great interest to scientists for this very reason. Climatologists can use them as another tool to infer historical climate changes, through changes in their shell growth, much like they do with tree ring and ice cores records. Those looking in to ageing (or even anti-ageing) study the Ocean Quahog's cells, compounds and DNA.