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At 507 years of age Ming the clam broke the Guinness World Record as the oldest animal in the world. Collected off the coast of Iceland in 2006, initial counts of the annual rings of the shell put the age at around 405 years old, which was still a record breaker. However, in 2013 scientists re-examined the shell using more precise techniques and the count rose to 507 years old.


This is the actual shell that was used in the aging study

This is what remains of the actual shell that was used in the aging study. At 507 years the Ocean Quahog is the oldest non-colonial animal in the world. We say ‘non-colonial’ because some animals such as corals can live to over 4,000 years but they are made of lots of animals (called polyps) stuck together as a collective form. Of the animals that exist alone the Ocean Quahog is the oldest and the Greenland Shark comes in second at around 400 years old.

Some examples of how long animals live

Our Insight gallery showcases research on the Natural World and displays a tiny percentage of our vast collections 

If you’d like to see Ming face-to-face (well, shell-to-face!) and find out how scientists discovered Ming’s age then come to Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd – National Museum Cardiff and visit our Insight gallery. As well as learning about Ming you can find out about Freshwater snails, prehistoric mammals and lots more....

Come and see Ming in our Insight gallery

Anna Holmes

Curator: Invertebrate Biodiversity (Bivalves)
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jeremy wyatt
30 December 2021, 09:46
I was here a few weeks ago, and somehow missed seeing Ming, it does seem tinged with a little sadness that the creature lived so long just to randomly die to fulfil some PhD or other research.
Then again, I use sea life gathered from the shore for my fishing so that is my hypocrisy.......
19 January 2021, 09:01
Of course, because we must kill everything, in the name of science.
2 October 2020, 17:57
Was. Ming WAS the oldest animal in the world. He was killed to determine his age, which was then a moot point as he was then dead.

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