An ocean quahog clam dredged off the Icelandic coast was the oldest individual (non-colonial) animal ever discovered whose age could be precisely determined.
This makes the otherwise unassuming Arctica islandica clam the longest lived animal species on record, though some corals are probably much older. The clam was initially named Ming by Sunday Times journalists, in reference to the Ming Dynasty, during which it was born.
Researchers from Bangor University in North Wales—unaware of the animal’s impressive age—determined the age by drilling through and counting rings on its shell (a technique known as sclerochronology). In the process, the clam died.
The researchers are uncertain how long the clam may have lived on had it been left to mind its own business on the ocean floor.