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Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) — A clam estimated to be more than 400 years old was found in waters off Iceland, making it the longest-lived recorded animal, scientists at Bangor University in Wales said.
The quahog clam, or Arctica islandica, was dredged from the waters in 2006 and its age assessed by counting the growth lines in the shell, according to the university’s Web site.
“If, in Arctica islandica, evolution has created a model of successful resistance to the damage of ageing, it is possible that an investigation of the tissues of these real life Methuselahs might help us to understand the process of ageing,” said Chris Richardson, a member of the team of scientists, according to the statement.
The finding eclipses the record of a 374-year-old Icelandic clam discovered in a museum and a 220-year-old Arctica specimen collected in U.S. waters in 1982, the university said. The Help the Aged group will assist in funding the team’s investigations into the ageing process of the clams, it said.
“It seems very likely that longer lived individuals of species remain to be found,” the university said in the statement. “Although Icelandic waters seem to provide the ideal conditions for extreme longevity, clams with lifetimes well in excess of 200 years have been found both in the Irish Sea and the North Sea.”
The team is analyzing shell growth as part of its study of the effects of climate change on the ocean. Shell growth is related to conditions such as water temperature, salinity and food availability, the report said.
The Bangor scientists are sclerochronologists who study the age of clams using annual growth lines in shells in the same way as tree growth is monitored through tree-rings, it said.
The age of the clam found in 2006 is assessed at between 405 and 410 years.
Tags: Arctica, Clam, Iceland, Iceland's Waters, longest-lived recorded animal, quahog clam
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