The average lifespan of an animal or plant depends on many factors. The evolution and adaptation features have been the prime factors that decide the time span of a living thing existing on earth. The question of oldest living thing on earth rises in our minds. Which plant and animal have surpassed the other species in terms of lifespan?
Apart from the average lifespan, we have witnessed animals and plants defying the rule of nature to live more than expected. The highest living human has lived for more than 120 years whereas our average life expectancy is 73.4 years in 2019. Let us find out the plants and animals that have defied the laws of nature in terms of lifespan.
The timeline starting from birth to death is called lifespan. It varies from species to species. Plants live longer than animals in various aspects. Animals also have shown bizarre ages in various cases too. To understand lifespan, here is an example. The oldest recorded human lifespan is 122 years and 164 days of Jeanne Calment (France).
The life expectancy of humans has increased quite a lot from our intervention with medical science. We have been very cautious about what we eat and where we live to increase our lifespan. In fact, we are the only species that deny adjusting to nature and tend to create our own. This is how we have increased our life expectancy from 35 to 74 years within a time period ranging from the Early Middle Ages to the current age.
It is hard to name the oldest living thing on earth without going into classification. Let us cover plants and animals first individually and then proceed to make a decision.
The longest living animal on land is Jonathan. He is a giant Seychelles tortoise. His age is 190 years old. He was brought to St. Helena, a remote island in the South Atlantic in the 1880s. He was just a small hatchling in 1832. This animal has witnessed the biggest inventions and transformations of human history. When he was born, the light bulb was not invented and cars were 5 decades due. This is why Jonathon is the oldest turtle living peacefully under human supervision.
If we want to know the oldest animal in the world then Greenland Sharks can give the other species tough competition. In 2016, a Greenland shark was caught in the nets. It is a top predator in the Arctic region. This shark was found to be 392 years old by using the radiocarbon technique. It is thought that these sharks can live up to 5 centuries. Imagine that!
Sponges are primitive animals sticking to the seabed with no proper organs. They just have the simplest alimentary canal connected with the pores on their skin to filter seawater and live on plankton. A deep-sea sponge can break the records of all living animals. It can live up to a thousand years. In fact, a study revealed that the oldest of the sponge samples collected lived for 11,000 years. During this time, the earth has just recovered from the Ice Age. Hence, the world oldest animal award goes to the deep-sea sponges.
A startling discovery was made by zoologists that revealed that jellyfish cannot actually die. They are immortals! The research was done in the 1980s that explained how jellyfish can regenerate their organs.
It is the only known species that can cheat death without using the invisibility cloak of Harry Potter. The secret lies in its reproductive patterns and cycles. It all starts with a polyp hatching from an egg. It clings to a rocky surface until it grows. When stressed, an adult jellyfish can degrade or sever its tentacles to resume the old polyp shape. It can once again resume its original shape when everything is normal.
A bristlecone pine tree is the oldest plant in the world. It has lived for 5062 years according to the botanists. It means that this tree existed way before Stonehenge was built. It is older than pharaohs and has witnessed the downfalls of the Roman Empire.
A special version of quaking aspen in Utah named Pando exists for 80,000 years in the same place. It has followed a particular cloning process from an extensive root system. The oldest one is long gone but a single tree has covered 107 acres of land alone. This tree can be considered the oldest thing in the world if we consider sprouting from the same root system. It can also be considered the biggest living thing in the world with such a huge span.
The Oldest Living Thing, Pando, The Cloning Tree
These are the list of animals and plants that have defied the law of death and have survived or still surviving. The list baffles us about the lifespan of animals that can live for millennia. As it turns out, sponges can beat plants in terms of lifespan.
Trees, on the other hand, stand in the same place handling harsh weather conditions and have lived for thousands of years. They have shown perseverance in nature. The longest tree in the world is Hyperion, a redwood species that grows 380 feet tall. It shows how plants and animals have evolved and adapted themselves to withstand nature’s fury and increase their lifespan.
We have also learned how humans have used science to increase their lifespan to double. Are we going to outlast all these? Food for thought!