They used its size to suggest its year of birth is as early as 1505, the year when Martin Luther declared that he would become a monk and when future King Henry VIII ended his engagement to Catherine of Aragon. And you thought turning 30 made you ancient.
The researchers write, 'Our results show that the Greenland shark is the longest-lived vertebrate known, and they raise concerns about species conservation'.
For the study, the scientists analyzed the eye lenses of 28 Greenland sharks using radio technology and found out that the oldest eye lens sample was 392 years old. That's a long time to wait.
The shark would have been alive during major world events like the founding of the United States, the Napoleonic wars and the sinking of the Titanic.
The LAD Bible reports that, because numerous sharks pre-date the Industrial Revolution and large-scale commercial fishing, scientists suggest they can shed light on how human behaviour impacts the oceans. They have been found to have remains of reindeer and even horses in their stomachs. The animal is a delicacy in Norway but its flesh is poisonous if not treated properly. "It definitely tells us that this creature is extraordinary and it should be considered among the absolute oldest animals in the world", said marine biologist Julius Nelson, whose research team studied the shark's longevity.
Professor Kim Praebel, who is leading the hunt, said the sharks were "living time capsules" that could help shed light on human impact on the oceans.