American and British scientists have found the oldest animal on the planet, which, according to research, appeared some time after Christopher Columbus discovered America.
The oldest organism on our planet is a type of mussel, which was killed during the research process by its discoverers.
The now dead mussel was 507 years old, which beat the 220-year-old mussel that was found in 1982, and was subsequently recorded in the Guinness book of records.
The long-lived mussel was discovered by Paul Butler and his colleagues from the British University in Bangor back in 2006 on the north coast of Iceland, while they were collecting shells, whose structures they analyze to learn about the climatic changes of our planet over the past 100 years.
The mussel was named Ming, in honor of the Chinese emperor dynasty, which was in power in 1499, when the mussel appeared.
When they first found it, the scientists had no idea how old the discovery was, so in order to study and analyze it, they opened its shell, which in turn killed it.
By looking at the rings on the outer part of the shell, they initially calculated that it was 405 years old. Then, they realized they were wrong and that it was 102 years older than initially believed.
The age of the mussel showed that it had appeared just 7 years after Columbus discovered America.
It has lived through both world wars and the Industrial Revolution.
By examining the oxygen isotopes on the rings of the shell, scientists can find out what the temperature of the sea water was at that time.
According to the biologist Doris Abel, Ming lived as long as it did because of a slow metabolism.
The mussel may reveal secrets of longevity.
Other long-lived animals have also been identified on our planet.
Some Galápagos tortoises live for 200 years. Experts explain their longevity due to their slow-paced lifestyle.
Some years ago, the remains of whales were found with harpoons from the end of the 18th century piercing their bodies.
Scientists have also discovered an unusual species of Pacific Ocean fish, that lives for over 150 years.