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Science. 2016 Aug 12;353(6300):702-4. doi: 10.1126/science.aaf1703. Epub 2016 Aug 11.

Eye lens radiocarbon reveals centuries of longevity in the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus).

Author information

1
Marine Biological Section, University of Copenhagen, Strandpromenaden 5, 3000 Helsingør, Denmark. Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Post Office Box 570, Kivioq 2, 3900 Nuuk, Greenland. Den Blå Planet, National Aquarium Denmark, Jacob Fortlingsvej 1, 2770 Kastrup, Denmark. Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, 9037 Tromsø, Norway. julius.nielsen@bio.ku.dk.
2
Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Post Office Box 570, Kivioq 2, 3900 Nuuk, Greenland.
3
Aarhus AMS Centre, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade 120, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark.
4
Department of Biological Sciences, Indiana University South Bend, 1700 Mishawaka Avenue, South Bend, IN, USA.
5
Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, 9037 Tromsø, Norway.
6
Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, University of Oxford, Dyson Perrins Building, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK.
7
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory, 74 Magruder Road, Highlands, NJ 07732, USA. Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Post Office Box 1346, Gloucester Point, VA 23062, USA.
8
Greenland Climate Research Centre, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Post Office Box 570, Kivioq 2, 3900 Nuuk, Greenland.
9
Marine Biological Section, University of Copenhagen, Strandpromenaden 5, 3000 Helsingør, Denmark.

Abstract

The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus), an iconic species of the Arctic Seas, grows slowly and reaches >500 centimeters (cm) in total length, suggesting a life span well beyond those of other vertebrates. Radiocarbon dating of eye lens nuclei from 28 female Greenland sharks (81 to 502 cm in total length) revealed a life span of at least 272 years. Only the smallest sharks (220 cm or less) showed signs of the radiocarbon bomb pulse, a time marker of the early 1960s. The age ranges of prebomb sharks (reported as midpoint and extent of the 95.4% probability range) revealed the age at sexual maturity to be at least 156 ± 22 years, and the largest animal (502 cm) to be 392 ± 120 years old. Our results show that the Greenland shark is the longest-lived vertebrate known, and they raise concerns about species conservation.

PMID:
27516602
DOI:
10.1126/science.aaf1703
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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