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Animals Who Lived Way Longer Than the Rest of Their Species

Updated November 5, 2019 1.7m views21 items

List RulesList includes individual animals who lived the longest recorded lives for their species

Every species has an average lifespan, yet specific animals somehow manage to outlive the rest and become the oldest example of their type. The animal old-timers on this list have all lived lives much longer than most, if not all, others in their species. In some cases, these critters have also lived longer than the oldest humans.

Imagine a 38-year-old house cat, a parrot that's been around for over a century, an alligator that survived the bombing of his zoo during World War II, and even a clam that was born in 1499. All of these senior citizens of the animal kingdom on this list are real, believe it or not.

Some of these ancient animals hold titles from the Guinness Book of World Records, while others are less officially recognized as the oldest of their kind ever in captivity. They're ordered roughly from oldest to youngest, but all of them lived longer than any other member of their species we know of. Some of them are even still alive and kicking today. Check out these golden oldies and ponder the circumstances that caused them to flap their wings, stretch their legs, or move their fins so much longer than the rest of their kind.
  • Ming the Clam

    Photo: Wanamaker, Heinemeier, Scourse, Richardson, Butler, Eiríksson, Knudsen / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

    Ming was the nickname given to a quahog clam dredged off the coast of Iceland in 2006. Its age was calculated by counting the annual growth lines on its shell. According to the lines and subsequent tests, Ming was 507 years old, which means this clam started doing its thing in 1499. Unfortunately, researchers accidentally killed the mollusk upon discovering it in 2006.

  • Adwaita the Aldabra Giant Tortoise

    Adwaita, a male giant tortoise, lived at the Alipore Zoological Gardens of Kolkata, India until his death in 2006 after he cracked his shell and got a liver infection. At the time of his death, he was believed to be 255 years old, making him the oldest terrestrial animal on record.
  • Hanako the Koi

    Video: YouTube
    Koi live can live for a very long time, very occasionally managing to clear a century. Hanako here doubled down, however. This koi died at the age of 226 in 1977 and had the distinction of being the oldest fish ever recorded.
  • Tu'i Malila the Tortoise

    Photo: John C. Sommerer / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    Tu'i Malila was a radiated tortoise said to have been given to the royal family of Tonga by Captain James Cook during his 18th century visit. There's debate about whether Tu'i Malila was male or female, but either way, this tortoise hatched around 1777 and died in 1965, making it 188 years old at the time of its death. Its body is preserved in the Tongan National Center on the island of Tongatapu.