The Marine Research Institute found no signs of ageing in the brain of a 245-year-old shark, which was caught in the west of Iceland in 2017. Grapevine journalists avoid brain-ageing by drinking port wine once a day and playing the recorder, but what does this crazy shark get up to? What is he playing at? Will we ever know?
According to RÚV, the director of the Marine Research Institute found that the shark has shown no sign of nerve degeneration due to his way of life. In fact, this is not so unusual in Greenland sharks, which have been known to live up to 400 years in the past. Hold up! What is this? Some sort of Greenland Shark Sudoku Club we haven’t been invited to? Do they only drink green juice? Are they all vegan? We need to know!
We aren’t the only ones thirsty to know this shark’s thrifty tricks: the MRI were studying the shark to find out whether shark brains show ageing in a similar way to human brains. But according to Guðmundur Þórðarson, the MRI’s director, “There were actually no signs of protein precipitation and atherosclerosis, as found in humans and rats at an advanced age, and no signs of neurodegeneration.”
According to Guðmundur, two factors are thought to be causing this: the shark has been swimming in water that is only 4°C, and as it moves very slowly, its metabolism is slow. “So he is not trying too hard,” Guðmundur explained. There is also evidence that the Greenland shark’s blood pressure is much lower than the blood pressure found in other species of shark. “The key to the shark’s longevity seems to be that it does not move much and stays in the cold and darkness”, apparently.
But Guðmundur doesn’t think we can cruise on this shark’s wavelength. “I would not recommend that people stay in four degree warm seas for a long time,” he warned.
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