Most people in a developed country can expect to live into their 70s, 80s or even beyond – no doubt thanks to the assistance of modern medicine and the availability of better food and hygiene. The oldest person ever recorded, a French woman, lived to be over 122 years old. Needless to say, the human lifespan is a lot longer than those of our four-legged friends: most dogs and cats won’t live much longer than 2 decades, and many other pets and animals have even shorter lifespans.
That is, except for a few creatures. There are some animals in the wild that can live longer than most humans: sometimes even with double or more our maximum life expectancy. For instance, certain kinds of tortoises have lived to see their 250th birthday, and it’s possible for certain types of whales to live 100 years or more in the wild. And if you want a long-lasting pet, you might want to consider a macaw, since they often outlive their owners. There is even one animal that is considered clinically immortal: a specific type of jellyfish that can actually revert back to a younger state.
So although humans often outlive most animals, a few other creatures do in fact, have the potential to roam (or swim) around earth much longer than us.
Macaw – Lives up to 100 years
Native to Central America, Mexico, South America and the Caribbean, the colorful and showy macaw can live to be 100 years old. The oldest macaw on record was a blue and yellow macaw named Charlie, who lived to be 111 years old. Like humans, the average lifespan of most blue and gold macaws is around 60-80 years. They are very friendly and sociable. In the wild, they live in flocks, but in captivity they bond with humans and enjoy being treated as just another member of the family. Since their lifespan is so long and they can easily outlive a person, it’s wise for an owner of one of these beautiful birds to write their beloved pet into their will so there is a plan for him to be rehomed… just in case.
Orca –Lives up to 100 years
Also known as the killer whale, orcas inhabit a massive portion of the oceans, from the Arctic and Antarctic regions all the way into tropical waters. In indigenous Pacific Northwest cultures, they were traditionally regarded as the most powerful animals in the ocean. Killer whales enjoy being at the top of the food chain (hence their name). The massive creatures are very social and it is even suggested that each of the groups they live in has its own sophisticated “culture,” dictating the orca’s behaviors when hunting and socializing. Clearly, these creatures are very social animals and most scientists believe they are very intelligent. In the wild, orcas usually live around 50 years. However, female orcas can live as long as 80-90 years, and the oldest orca recorded is believed to have been around 101 years old.
Lobster – Lives up to 140 years or more
Yes, that’s right, your lobster dinner might be decades old. Some lobsters caught in the ocean are 60 years old or more. These creatures continue to grow throughout their lives, molting when necessary to accommodate new growth (the largest lobster ever caught was over 20 kilograms). Age doesn’t seem to have an impact on their vitality, either: research has shown that older lobsters are actually more fertile than younger lobsters. In the year 2009, a lobster that was estimated to be over 140 years old was caught.
Orange Roughy fish – Lives up to 150 years or more
This deep-water ocean fish dwells in the cool waters of the Pacific and is famous for its long lifespan Scientists say that the Orange Roughy can live up to 149 years or more. An Orange Roughy grows very slowly, taking a very long time to reach maturity (about 20-40 years). Although this might account for the fish’s long lifespan, it also leaves them quite vulnerable to being fished before they can get the chance to reproduce. Commercial fishing, including deep-sea trawling techniques, has also been destroying their habitat and has caused a decline in their species. This has prompted some grocery store chains to prohibit Orange Roughy from being sold to help ensure that this species does not suffer a further decline.
Tuatara – Lives up to 100-200 years
The Tuatara, a reptile that only lives in New Zealand, was once threatened by an influx of rats into their habitat. Luckily, these small lizard-like creatures have since been re-introduced in the land and are now thriving. A tuatara looks like an average lizard, but is actually a unique kind of animal that belongs to a different order than lizards. The reason the Tuatara can be threatened so easily is that they take a very long time to reproduce. With this said, they remain sexually mature at a very old age: one that was in captivity in New Zealand mated (possibly for the first time) at 111 years old. Although the average lifespan of a Tuatara is 60 years, some believe a Tuatara could live to be as old as 200.
Koi fish – Lives up to 200 years
The graceful Koi, which are often kept as pets in garden ponds, can live to be 100 years old and some claim that they can live as long as 200 years. Although Koi start their lives as very small fish, a Koi could eventually grow up to 3 feet long. Koi are actually very hardy fish, especially once they get older and grow bigger. A happy, well-cared for Koi will live to be over 100 years old and several have been rumored to live 200 years or longer. It is said that one legendary Koi named Hanako lived to celebrate his 225th birthday.
Giant tortoise – Lives up to 200-250 years
Tortoises are not known for speed, but slow and steady apparently wins the race in terms of lifespan: tortoises have an impressively long life expectancy, living double or more the number of years of an average person. The oldest tortoise on record was an Aldabra Giant Tortoise, who lived to be 250 years old. A Radiated tortoise lived to 188, and there is a Seychelles giant tortoise – still alive – that is reported to be about 182 years old. Needless to say, no matter where in the world they call home, most tortoises have a significant lifespan and can easily expect to live up to 200 years.
Bowhead whale – Lives 200 years
Bowhead whales outlive any other mammal on Earth, including humans. A Bowhead whale is a massive creature: it can weigh up to 100 tons. Its home is in the Arctic and sub-Arctic waters off of Greenland, Alaska, Canada and Russia. Its massive, rock-solid head can break through the Arctic ice so it can breathe in the cold waters. Although most other kinds of whales do live very long lives (60-70 years), Bowhead whales can reach 150-200 years old. In 2007, a whale caught off of the coast of Alaska had a harpoon embedded in its thick neck. The harpoon had been manufactured around the year 1890.
Ocean mollusk or quahog “Arctica Islandica” – Lives 500 years or more
Mollusks have incredibly long lifespans. They are certainly the oldest creatures in the animal kingdom (that we know of). One type of mollusk, the Arctica Islandica, which lives in the North Atlantic ocean, reportedly lives hundreds of years. One Arctica Islandica mollusk, named Ming, was confirmed to have been alive for over 500 years. “Ming” was discovered on the coast of Iceland in 2006. Although Ming eventually died in captivity, it is possible it would have lived even longer had it been left in the wild. The Arctica Islandica is also an edible clam that is often harvested from the ocean: so, the next time you order clams at a restaurant, you could be eating something that is older than your great-great-great grandparents. Many other types of mollusks also live to an old age; for instance, the mussels that produce freshwater pearls can live to be around 200 or 250 years old.
Immortal Jellyfish – Immortal
This jellyfish not only has a longer lifespan than humans, it is also considered “immortal.” This small type of jellyfish lives in the Mediterranean Sea and in the waters near Japan. Its secret to immortality is that it can revert to a stage of its life before it was sexually mature. It begins as a larva then creates a colony of polyps (which are genetically identical). It is then considered sexually mature. However, if the jellyfish experiences stress, is sick or grows old, it will revert back to the polyp stage and form a new colony. Essentially, it alters the state of its cells and transforms them into new types of cells. Although it has natural predators that often significantly shorten its lifespan, it has the potential to live… well, forever.