Eye lens radiocarbon reveals centuries of longevity in the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus).

Abstract

The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus), an iconic species of the Arctic Seas, grows slowly and reaches >500 centimeters (cm) in total length, suggesting a life span well beyond those of other vertebrates. Radiocarbon dating of eye lens nuclei from 28 female Greenland sharks (81 to 502 cm in total length) revealed a life span of at least 272 years. Only the smallest sharks (220 cm or less) showed signs of the radiocarbon bomb pulse, a time marker of the early 1960s. The age ranges of prebomb sharks (reported as midpoint and extent of the 95.4% probability range) revealed the age at sexual maturity to be at least 156 ± 22 years, and the largest animal (502 cm) to be 392 ± 120 years old. Our results show that the Greenland shark is the longest-lived vertebrate known, and they raise concerns about species conservation.

DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf1703
020406020162017
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Cite this paper

@article{Nielsen2016EyeLR, title={Eye lens radiocarbon reveals centuries of longevity in the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus).}, author={Julius Nielsen and Rasmus Berg Hedeholm and Jan Heinemeier and Peter G. Bushnell and J\orgen Schou Christiansen and Jesper Olsen and Christopher Bronk Ramsey and Richard W . Brill and Malene Simon and Kirstine F Steffensen and John Fleng Steffensen}, journal={Science}, year={2016}, volume={353 6300}, pages={702-4} }