13 Animals with the Longest Lifespan (Most Will Surprise You!)

Longest lifespan animal

Most ocean creatures, mainly the invertebrates form a bulk of the animals with longest lifespan. Some can live for so long, sometimes immortal.

Before we dive into the details, here is a table summarizing longest animal lifespan starting with Hydra which is the animal with the longest lifespan

Animals with Longest Lifespan

AnimalAverage Lifespan
HydraPotentially Immortal
Turritopsis DohrniiPotentially Immortal
Black CoralsOver 4000 years
Glass Sponge1500 years
Ocean Quahog Clams500 years
Greenland SharksOver 400 years
TubewormsOver 250 years
Freshwater Pearl MusselsOver 200 years
Red Sea UrchinsOver 200 years
Bowhead Whales100 -200 years
Rougheye RockfishOver 100 years
Orange Roughy149 years
Galapagos Giant Tortoise80-120 years

If you are as curious as I am, then keep on reading.

Here are 13 Animals with The Longest Lifespan Starting with The Oldest

1. Hydra

Hydra, longest lifespan animal

Hydras are thought to be potentially immortal. The presence of predators is what negates their immortality otherwise they would live forever.

Though not very common, the hydrae are small invertebrates with soft bodies. They are composed of stem cells which enable them to regularly regenerate and clone and resemble little jellyfish.

2. Turritopsis Dohrnii

The turritopsis dohrnii is commonly referred to as the immortal jellyfish. It is native to the Mediterranean Sea.

It is among the top 3 animals with the longest lifespan.

They are potentially immortal as they do not die due to old age but as a result of predation by fish that feed on them. [1]

These beautiful creatures are approximately 0.18 inches (0.45 cm) in length. They are generally smaller than the human pinky finger.

Moreover, they have a bright red stomach which is visible in the middle of its transparent bell. Its edges are lined with up to 90 white tentacles.

3. Black Corals

Black Corals, animals with longest lifespan

Black corals, also known as antipatharians, are a species of the coral family and the longest living one among them.

They typically have a long-life expectancy and can live for up to over 4,000 years. [2]

Black Corals live in colonies and are related to sea anemones and stony corals. They are found in deep waters in tropical ecosystems such as in Hawaii.

Their skeleton is characterized by tiny spines on the surface. These tiny spines are the reason why they are sometimes referred to as ‘little thorn corals’.

4. Glass Sponge

The Glass Sponge has a relatively long lifespan of about 1,500 years. [3]

This creature is sometimes referred to as Hyalospongiae or Triaxonia and belongs to the class of sponges. They are mostly found on muddy sea bottoms at great depths.

With needle-like structures made of silica and forms a unique geometric network like that of Venus’ flower basket, they resemble glass hence the name but are not made of glass.

They are commonly mistaken for plants since they do not have eyes, a mouth or a stomach. However, they are living and breathing animals who feed by absorbing food and oxygen from the surrounding water and excrete their waste through their tube-shaped oscula.

5. Ocean Quahog Clams

Ocean Quahog Clam

Ocean Quahog have a lifespan of about over 500 years. The oldest clam was found off the coast of Iceland and was 507 years old. [4]

These animals are found in the sandy bottoms of the North Atlantic Ocean. They are native to America and are also referred to as Mahogany Clams, Black Clams and Icelandic Cyprines among others.

6. Greenland Sharks

Greenland sharks can live for over 400 years. This makes them the longest-living vertebrates.

They are common in the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans and are sometimes called gurry sharks. They prefer deep cold waters and during summer they stick to the deep waters.

Greenland Sharks are also known as sleeper sharks because of their slowness swimming at a speed of 0.76 mph (0.3 m/s) but have the ability for short bursts of speed.

These sharks are quite huge and measure 252 inches (641 cm).

Their teeth are adapted to cut out plugs of flesh. They are opportunistic predators who feed on any meat they find, whether dead or alive.  

7. Tubeworms

tubeworms, animals with the longest lifespan

Tubeworms live to over 250 years. This is attributed to the fact that they have few predators.

Also called the Lamellibrachia luymesi, these are worms found in the coldest and deepest bottoms of the sea.

Their appearance is similar to that of tubes. They look like a long white tube with an unusually bright red nail called a plume.

Their bodies are soft, colorless and hidden inside the hard tube made of chitin.

They grow up to 96 inches (244 cm) in length and 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter.  The tubeworm’s red plume is a source of food for crabs, fish and other sea creatures.

They do not have eyes, legs, a stomach or mouth.

8. Freshwater Pearl Mussels

Freshwater Pearl Mussels can live for 130 to 170 years. Their long lifespan is attributed to their incredibly low metabolism. [5]

They are also known as Margaritifera margaritifera which means ‘the one that carries pearls forward’. This species is found in northern rivers in the United States, Europe and Canada.

They are rare to spot because they are endangered as a result of human interference and were listed as an endangered species in 2011.

Today, captive breeding of these creatures has been employed and is being used to ensure the conservation of the species. [6]

9. Red Sea Urchins

Red Sea Urchin, animals with longest lifespan

Within the urchin family, the Red Sea Urchins are the largest.  They live for over 200 years without aging.

Scientists measure the leaves of carbon-14 to determine their age. The main cause of death of these creatures is predation.

Their outer skeleton measures more than 7.1 inches (18 cm) in diameter while their maximum spine length is 3.1 inches (8 cm).

The outer skeleton comprises 10 fused plates that enclose the sea urchin like slices of an orange.

10.  Bowhead Whales

bowhead whale, animals with the longest lifespan

Bowhead whales can live for 100 to 200 years.

They are mostly found in the Arctic. Due to the cold in the Arctic, they are adapted to keep warm through their insulating layer of blubber which is 12 inches (31 cm) thick.

Their bodies are black save for the front part of the lower jaw which is white. These whales are huge and grow up to 720 inches (1829 cm) long.

They obtain their food by filtering it through the baleen and by opening their mouths. They then strain planktons from the seafloor.

11.  Rougheye Rockfish

Rougheye rockfish have a long-life expectancy of over 100 years with the oldest living one has lived for up to 205 years old. [7]

They are commonly found near the seafloor between 560 and 2,20 feet (170 and 660 meters) and like hiding in caves and crevices.

12. Orange Roughy

The average lifespan of the Orange Roughy fish is 149 years old. There was orange roughy caught near Tasmania which lived for up to 250 years. [8]

This fish is also known as the red roughy, deep-sea perch or slimehead. Their home is the deep waters of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

They are bright red in color and upon death, they fade to a yellow-orange tint. They are relatively deep-sea fish and weigh up to 247 ounces (7kg).

13.  Galapagos Giant Tortoise

Galapagos Giant Tortoise

The Galapagos giant tortoise have a long lifespan of approximately 80 to 120 years. The oldest tortoise has lived for up to 152 years old. [9]

This tortoise is known for its ability to continue to grow into its adult years and can grow up to 60 inches (152 cm). This makes them the largest tortoises in the world.

They do not eat a lot as they mostly feed on grass and cacti.

This tortoise has a slow metabolism and thus they can go a year without eating. They can store a lot of water in their bladders. This reservoir of water acts as backup storage during drought and hot weather.

In a nutshell;

  • The animal with the longest lifespan is the Hydra which is potentially immortal.
  • The Greenland shark can live for over 400 years making it the longest-living vertebrate

That is it for this article. Am curious to know, which of these animals with the longest lifespan did you least expect to find on the list? Let us know in the comments.

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