The Longest Living Animals

Are there any animals that live for hundreds or even thousands of years? Which animals can do that? How do animals get so old? In this article you will find a list with all records and exciting explanations!

Even though we often survive our pets, humans do not at all have the highest life expectancy of all animals. Turtles, whales, birds, and elephants – only to name a few – can get much older than us. But let's take a look at the following table first:

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Life Expectancy
Oldest animal Giant sponge A. joubini 10.000 years
Oldest coral Black coral Leipathes 4.265 years
Oldest mussel Black clam "Ming" † 507 years
Oldest turtle Aldabra giant tortoise "Adwaita" † 256 years
Oldest koi "Hanako" † 225 years
Oldest whale Bowhead whale * 200 years
Oldest urchin Species M. franciscanus 200 years
Oldest fish Alfonsin 150 years
Oldest crab Lobster "George" 140 years
Oldest tuatara "Henry" 111 years
Oldest orca "Granny" 103 years
Oldest elephant "Lin Wang" † 86 years
Oldest flamingo "Greater" 83 years
Oldest cockatoo "Cooie" † 83 years
Oldest Andean condor "Thaoo" † 80 Years
Oldest albatross "Wisdom" 63 years
Oldest horse "Ol' Billy" † 62 years
Oldest seal Ringed seal 43 years
Oldest snake Boa Constrictor 40 years
Oldest cat "Creme Puff" † 38 years
Oldest dog "Bluey" † 29 years
Oldest dog (vegetarian) "Bramble" † 27 years
Oldest cat (living) "Poppy" 24 years

(Valid: September 2017)
* In 2007, a bowhead whale was discovered with the tip of a harpoon from 1880 in its body. It has been swimming around with this piece of metal for 120 years.

Aldabra Giant Tortoise Aldabra Giant Tortoise - Photo: underworld/Shutterstock

Who’s Going to End Up on the Scrap Heap?

The oldest giant sponge (yes, it is also an animal) is still alive and kicking. Meanwhile it has reached an age of more than 10,000 years. The sponge belongs to the species A. joubini and lives on the ground of the Antarctic Ocean. It was discovered during an expedition in the years 1908 – 1910. Yet, the exact age of the animal is still controversial.

The second oldest creature is a black coral of the species Leiopathes. One of those animals has an estimated age of 4,265 years. Thus it would live about 50 times as long as an average human being. If you would like to live eternally, you definitely should have some coffee with both animals. They certainly have got the knack.

How do the Animals Manage to Get That Old?

Particularly scientists are very interested to find out how animals can get that old. They hope to use their findings to prolong our lives as well. So far there are no detailed insights, but only some hints.

The size and the activity of an animal seem to matter. The bigger and less active, the older the animal can get. Big animals often have less enemies and prefer food that does not move too quickly.

A bowhead whale just unhurriedly swims through the ocean and filters food from the water. Giant tortoises also do not have a lot of action when munching away on the grass from the ground. Not an exciting life, but a long one.

Tuatara Tuatara - Photo: Cameramannz/Shutterstock

Tortoises Can Get Incredibly Old

Domestic tortoises can get between 60 and 80 years old. This makes us wonder how to provide for them in the future, when we are gone.

This was even more difficult with the radiated tortoise Tu'i Mailia. It stayed with the royal family of Tonga and obviously enjoyed such a good live there that it reached the incredible age of 188 years.

When it died in 1965, the giant tortoise Harriet seemed to hold the record as the oldest tortoise. It was born in 1830 and died at the age of 176 years in 2006.

Shortly after its death it became known that Harriet’s male colleague Adwaita, which had been living on the Seychelles, was even older and died at the age of 256 years in 2006.

The Oldest Human Being

The average life expectancy in Germany is about 80 years. Currently, the French lady Jeanne Calment is the oldest human being that has ever lived. She lived from 1875 to 1997 and became 122 years old. At the age of 85 she started to learn fencing. You are never too old to start something new! At the age of 100 years, Jeanne still rode on her bicycle. Well done!

Aldabra Giant Tortoise Aldabra Giant Tortoise - Photo: underworld/Shutterstock