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What is the Longest-Living Animal?

longest-living animals, long life
While not receiving the award for longest-living animal, the galapagos tortoise is right up there, living more than 150 years. (Image credit: Courtesy of Yale University.)

The animal with the most birthdays to date goes to a quahog clam plucked from the cold Icelandic waters in 2007. The tiny mollusk would need quite a lung capacity to extinguish the possible 400 candles on its cake.

On average, members of the quahog clan don't live nearly as long. When talking about the longest and shortest life spans, scientists refer to the average age at which an organism is expected to die. Maximum life spans highlight those individuals whose ages "break the molds."

The Galápagos tortoise has an average life span of more than 150 years. They certainly take advantage of their lengthy lives, ambling around at a sluggish 0.16 miles per hour (0.26 kilometers per hour).

Some life-span chart toppers include:

  • American box turtle — 120 years
  • Bowhead whale — 60 to 70 years (though bowheads exceeding 200 years have been reported)
  • Elephant — 70 years
  • Human — 70 to 80 years

Some animals are born and die in the seeming blink of the eye, including:

  • Adult housefly — 4 weeks
  • Worker bee — 5 weeks
  • Ant (Worker) — ½ year
  • Opossum — 1 year
  • Ant (Queen) — 3 years
  • Rat — 2 to 3 years

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