Can You Identify the Longest-Living Animals in the World?
By: Bambi Turner
Rumor has it that this animal never forgets, but with an average lifespan of more than 50 years, that's a pretty long memory. Can you name this creature?
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The average Asian Elephant lives into its 50s, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo. One long-living fellow named Lin Wang, however, broke all the rules when he lived to the age of 86. The enduring Asian Elephant fought in the Sino-Japanese War in the '30s and '40s, then moved into the Taipei Zoo in 1952, where he remained a top attraction until his 2003 death.
A typical Geoduck lives for 140 years or more. Can you guess the common name for this sea critter?
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Despite its name, the Geoduck has nothing to do with actual ducks. It's actually a saltwater clam found in cold water along the northwest coast of the U.S. and Canada. While the Geoduck's shell is only 6 to 8 inches long, the "neck" of the creature extends out as long as 3 feet. This species easily lives 120 years, though scientists have found one estimated at 168 years old.
Which species of dog shown here was Bluey, the longest-living dog in history so far?
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An Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey lived from 1910 to 1939, making him 29 years old when he died, and the oldest verified dog on record. This lifespan is particularly impressive when you consider that most Aussie Cattle Dogs live just over 13 years on average.
It's the longest-living terrestrial critter on the planet, but can you guess its name?
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The Tortoise is the longest-living terrestrial animal, or the longest-living creature that actually lives on land. Most species have a lifespan between 80 and 150 years, but a Tortoise named Jonathan living on the island of Saint Helena is still going strong at age 187 as of 2019.
Can you identify this creature, which goes by the scientific name Eschrichtius robustus?
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The Gray Whale measures 40 to 50 feet long and weights between 30 and 40 tons. This over-sized creature typically lives between 50 and 70 years, and the species is doing so well that it was removed from endangered lists in the '90s.
Name this avian species, which is native to Africa and the Middle East and typically lives 30 to 40 years in the wild.
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The Greater Flamingo is the largest and most common member of the Flamingo family. While these birds live 30 to 40 years in the wild and around 60 in captivity, a female Greater Flamingo (who happened to be named Greater) at the Adelaide Zoo died at the ripe old age of 83 in 2014.
Do you know what this long-living ocean species, which goes by the name Hexactinelled, is commonly called?
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Scientists call it Scolymastra joubini, but this species is more commonly called Hexactinelled or Glass Sponge. Native to the Arctic, it consists of a tough mineral skeleton wrapped in one "mega-cell." This unusual makeup gives it a lifespan in excess of 10,000 years.
The species shown here generally lives 30 to 50 years. Think you can name it?
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American Alligators look like something out of the dinosaur era, so it's no surprise they live a long time — 30 to 50 years on average. One long-living gator named Muja as born sometime in the early 1900s, moved into the Belgrade Zoo in Serbia in 1937, survived heavy WWII bombing, and is still going strong in 2019.
It survived 507 years only to be killed by curious scientists in 2006. Do you know the name of this animal?
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In 2006, scientists discovered an Ocean Quahog off the coast of Iceland. They named it Ming, or Hafrun, and started trying to calculate its age. Sadly, this 507 year old critter was killed when its shell was opened by scientists trying to count the growth lines on its shell, so who know how long it could have ultimately lived.
The oldest one of these animals in history lived to the ripe old age of 62. Can you guess what it's called?
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Horses live around 25 to 30 years, but one specimen named Old Billy worked as a barge horse in England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, ultimately passing at the age of 62 in 1822. Billy lives on at the Manchester Museum, where his skull is on display.
With a lifespan of 300 to 500 years, this creature is the longest-living vertebrate on Earth. Think you can ID it?
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Also known as the Gurry Shark or the Gray Shark, the Greenland Shark lives in the cold waters between Canada and Scandinavia. One of the largest species of sharks, it can weigh more than 2,000 pounds, and lives between 300 and 500 years on average. While its meat is toxic, it is edible when carefully prepared, and is considered a delicacy in Iceland.
Choose the correct name for this critter, which lives 2 to 3 years on average.
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Rats may live just 2 to 3 years, but a rat named Rodney made it into the Guinness Book of World Records in 1995 for making it to his 7th birthday. Just under a decade later, a lab mouse named Yoda made history when he lived to the age of 4, which is about twice the age of most mice.
Out in the wild, this majestic bird lives an average of 50 years, but some individuals live much longer in captivity. Do you know what it's called?
With a wingspan of 11 feet or more, the Andean Condor is one of the largest birds in the world. Though most live to around the age of 50, a condor named Thaao living at the Beardsley Zoo in Connecticut was around 80 when he died in 2010. What a tough old bird!
They may be less than 2 inches long and weigh only a third of an ounce, but can you name these mammals that live for 40 years or more?
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Brown bats can live as long as 30 years, but one species called Brandt's Bat seems to live 40 years or more. While these tiny creatures are elusive, an individual tagged by researchers in 1964 in Siberia was still going strong 41 years later when scientists managed to recapture it in 2005.
What is the name of this undersea wonder, which can live in excess of 4,000 years?
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Despite its name, Black Coral might not actually appear black. While its internal skeleton is black, its exterior "skin" can actually take on any color. Found in the tropics and long used by craftspeople to make jewelry, Black Coral can easily live for thousands of years.
A house pet named Creme Puff was a record-breaking 38 years old when he died in 2005. Do you know what kind of animal this beloved pet was?
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Creme Puff was the world's oldest living cat when he died in 2005 at 38 years and 3 days of age. Owned by a Texas man named Jake Perry, Creme Puff was known for dining on oddities ranging from coffee to green veggies.
Do you know the name of this long-living fish, whose scales grow like the growth rings of a tree?
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Koi are a form of wild Carp that can grow up to 3 feet long. They live an average of 40 years, and are chosen for their beauty to swim in ornamental ponds. One Koi named Hanako lived from about 1751 to 1977, making her well over 200 years old when she passed.
The species you see here lives between 30 and 50 years, though some unique individuals can live for over a century. What is this animal?
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Despite what you might have heard, lobsters aren't immortal. They live 30 to 50 years, but are unique in that they don't experience a change in strength or metabolism as they age. One special lobster named George was 140 years old when he was briefly owned by a NY restaurant. He was returned to the sea with the help of PETA in 2009.
Want a pet that will be with you for most of your life? Consider this bird, which lives 40 to 60 years on average.
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Cockatoos are a beautiful sight and can live as long as some humans thanks to their 40 to 60 year lifespan. One pink cockatoo named Cookie was a whopping 83 years young when he passed in 2016 at a zoo in Chicago.
So we all know some crazy invertebrates can live for a long time, but can you name the longest-living mammal?
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With an average lifespan in excess of 200 years, Bowhead Whales have the honor of being the longest-living mammal. Also known as the Arctic or Polar Whale, these creatures range from 50 to 60 feet long and weigh more than 100 tons.
Sure, it looks like a lizard, but can you name this long-living reptile that belongs to a species all its own?
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Native to New Zealand, the Tuatara is a lizard with scary-looking spikes running down its back and tail. They live into their 60s, and keep growing for the first half of their life. One Tuatara named Henry was estimated to be 111 years old when he mated with an 80 year old female Tuatara in 2009, producing 11 babies.
Ear bones within this creature feature growth rings like the rings on a tree. Know what it's called?
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Rockfish includes a bunch of fish species that are known for hanging out around rocky outcroppings. In addition to being good hiders, these fish have a lot of endurance. For example, Rougheyes live for 140 years, while Shortrakers live an average of 120 years. In 2013, fishermen hauled in a Shortraker measuring more than 3 feet long, with an estimated age in excess of 200 years.
Scientists call it Turritopsis nutricula, but do you know the common name of this creature, which pretty much has an indefinite lifespan?
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One species of Jellyfish known as Turritopsis nutricula is pretty much immortal. Measuring around a quarter of an inch, this species can actually reverse its life cycle, transferring cells to switch from a fully-grown adult back to a younger version of itself.
The oldest member of this species was in her 40s when she died. Do you know the name of this animal?
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Polar bears tend to live to around 25 years of age, but one of these critters named Debby broke all the rules. She lived at a zoo in Winnepeg from 1966 to 2008. She and her mate Skipper produced six cubs before Debby passed away at the age of 41 or 42.
Its name comes from the Greek for "water horse," but can you name this animal that can live for half a century?
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Native to sub-Saharan Africa, the Hippopotamus can run 20 mph despite an average weight of 3,000 pounds. This animal lives 40 to 50 years on average, but a hippo named Donna made it to the age of 61 before passing away at an Indiana zoo in 2012.
One of the closest human relations, this animal can live 50 years or more in a zoo. Think you can name it?
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Western Gorillas can weigh 400 pounds or more, but are remarkably similar to humans. With a lifespan of 40 years in the wild and 50 years in captivity, they are the longest-living primates. One female Gorilla named Colo died at age 60 in 2017 at the Columbus Zoo.
Some call this long-living bird a Manx Shearwater, but you might recognize it better by this name.
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The Puffin, whose scientific name is Puffinus puffinus (yes, really), is a black and white bird with a 20 to 25 year lifespan on average. Interestingly enough, one Puffin tagged by researchers in 1957 at the age of 5 was captured again in 2003, making him more than 50 years old.
Killed for their horns, there are only about 5,000 of these animals left in the wild. Think you know their name?
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White Rhinos live 40 to 50 years, while Black Rhinos live 35 to 50 years...when they're not brutally murdered for their horns, that is. One Black Rhino named Elly lived to the ripe old age of 46, producing 14 babies before dying in 2017 at the San Francisco Zoo.
Guess the name of this slippery animal, which has an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years, but can sometimes live much longer.
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Eels are sea creatures that live a respectable 15 to 20 years, but some individuals can live much longer. Eels found in wells in Denmark and Sweden had estimated ages of 55 and 85, respectively, while another Swedish eel named Ale died in 2014 at age 155.
Most members of this species die in their 40s, but a female named Nonja made it to add 55. Can you identify this animal?
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Orangutans usually live into their 40s, which would be considered around middle-age for humans. One special lady named Nonja died in 2007 at the age of 55 in a Miami Zoo after having birthed five babies in her lifetime.
Officially its name is the Aguila chrysaetos, but what is the common name for this long-living bird?
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Golden Eagles live around 30 years in the wild, and have dark brown feathers with paler golden feathers along the back of their heads. These birds mate for life, and the oldest known individual living in captivity died at age 46.
Pick the correct name for this eight-legged creepy crawler, which delivers a painful bite despite its small size.
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The oldest known spider is an Armored Trapdoor Spider, which was around 43 years old when it was killed by a wasp in Australia in 2018. Before that, the oldest spider on record was a Tarantula from Mexico that made it to age 28.
It wasn't owned by Winston Churchill, but Charlie the Curser did live for more than a century. What kind of critter is Charlie?
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A blue and gold Macaw named Charlie has been kicking it in England for well over 100 years, and is still living as of 2019...though rumors she was owned by Churchill are false. Most Macaws live 30 to 35 years in the wild, or 50 years in captivity, so Charlie is doing pretty well for her species.
Want a dog that will live until the kids go to college? Consider one of these, which ranks among the longest-living canines.
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Most dog owners can tell you that small dogs tend to live longer than larger ones. Based on the lack of common genetic illnesses, most Chihuahuas live 15 to 20 years. Though rare, the New Guinea Singing Dog is the longest-living canine, but good luck finding one.
Found in the North Pacific from Alaska to Mexico, what is this creature that scientists call Mesocentrotus franciscanus?
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The Red Sea Urchin consists of a tough shell covered in pointy spikes, which can range from red to burgundy, While most live 30 years or more, some individuals have been found with estimated ages in excess of 200 years.
Only one in eight males in this species reach adulthood in the wild. What is its name?
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Because so few lions reach adulthood, especially males, their life expectancy in the wild is only around 15 years. In captivity, lions live 20 to 30 years. A 25-year old female named Zenda was believed to be the oldest lion in the U.S. when she died in 2016 at the age of 25.
Some call it the Redwood of the Sea, but scientists call it Xestospongia Muta. Can you name this creature?
Some compare Barrel Sponges to Redwood Trees because they are large, slow-growers. The Barrel Sponge resembles a Redwood trunk, and can be 6-feet in diameter, but looks more like stone than wood. Species of Barrel Sponge living in the Caribbean have an estimated age of 2,300 years or more.
In the wild, Ursus arotos lives 20 to 30 years. Can you name this species that tends to live longer in captivity?
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In the wild, Brown Bears live a respectable 20 to 30 years. The oldest known member of this species in North America was a Grizzly named Ginger, who was 40 years old when she had to be euthanized in 2015.
It's not exactly an animal, but it is the oldest individual living thing on the planet. Know what it's called?
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A Bristlecone Pine located in the White Mountains of California is the oldest individual creature on the planet, with an estimated age of 5,068 years. The second oldest? Another Bristlecone Pine located in the same mountain range. This one is nicknamed Methuselah and in "only" 4,850 years old.
You probably recognize this species as a human, but do you know the age of the oldest human who ever lived?
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The history books are full of tales of long-living humans, but the oldest human ever whose age could actually be verified was Jeanne Calment of France, who was 122 years old when she passed in 1995. Interestingly enough, the 10 oldest humans who ever lived were all women, with the oldest known male dying at the age of 116.
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About This Quiz
What would you do if you had all the time in the world? While all of us are bound by the business of modern life — work, school, family and friends — the real ticking of the clock comes from the fact that every human has a finite lifespan, one that is measured in decades, not centuries. Yet even as we try to squeeze as much living as we can into whatever time we have, scientists are learning more and more about longevity, and what factors contribute to how many years we have on Earth.
While much work on longevity is focused on humans, all living things can serve as a source of information for researchers trying to figure out what exactly determines how long we live. That's why scientists are so fascinated by lobsters, who manage not to show any serious signs of aging over the years, or undersea creatures whose lifespans are measured in millennia rather than years. Even animals that live on land can provide longevity clues, from the seemingly immortal tortoise to the primates that share such a large portion of their DNA with their human counterparts.
Know which creatures life for decades and which have a much shorter lifespan on average? Prove it with this quiz on the longest-living animals!
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