Age Of Ocean Quahog Wrong By 100 Years - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Age Of Ocean Quahog Wrong By 100 Years

Published November 8, 2013

An Ocean Quahog, Arctica Islandica, that was found off the north coast of Iceland turns out to have been 507 years old when it died, a full century older than first thought.

The bivalve mollusc was believed to be 405 years old when it was collected by the north coast by British scientists in 2006, and made it to the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest animal in the world.

Now, the scientists admit to having been too quick to pronounce its age.

“We got it wrong the first time and maybe we were a bit hastingly publishing our findings back then. But we are absolutely certain that we’ve got the right age now,” ocean scientist Paul Butler, who researches into the A. islandica at Bangor University in Wales, told ScienceNordic.

The mollusc was named Ming as it was born during the Chinese Ming dynasty and despite it being a century older than first thought, the name is still relevant as the Ming dynasty lasted from 1368 to 1644.

Ming was born by the Icelandic north coast in 1499, shortly after Black Death swept Iceland for the second time and about half a century before the last Catholic bishop, Jón Arason, was beheaded.

As one of the world’s long living organisms it’s impossible to say how much longer Ming might have lived had the researchers not opened up its shell to put it under scientific scrutiny in autumn 2006, unaware of how the animal’s impressive age.

Now, the A. islandica can provide a unique insight into past climate conditions.

Associate Professor Jan Heinemeier, head of the AMS 14C Dating Centre at Aarhus University in Denmark helped with the new dating of Ming.

“The fact alone that we got our hands on an animal that’s 507 years old is incredibly fascinating, but the really exciting thing is of course everything we can learn from studying the mollusc,” he told ScienceNordic.

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