It’s no secret that some animals on Earth live longer than many humans do. A parrot in captivity can live over 80 years, the giant tortoise can reach 100 years old or more, and the oldest known bowhead whale lived for at least 211 years. But one tiny ancient creature beats them all, surviving an estimated 11,000 years in its frigid habitat under the sea.
Scientists estimate an individual deep sea sponge belonging to the species Monorhaphis chuni has lived at least 11,000 years, according to a study in the journal Aging Research Reviews. That variety of glass sea sponge is also, perhaps incidentally, the largest biosilica species on Earth with needle-like spicules measuring up to 10 feet (three meters) in length.
Between its insane age and record-breaking length, the sponge is at the center of attention in many scientific circles, as researchers yearn to understand how its biological functions work. First and foremost, researchers hope to gain an understanding of how it is even possible for a living creature to survive for such a long time, given that no other animal on Earth has a lifespan that comes even close to that of the sponge.
Images via Wikipedia (1, 2) and Werner E. G. Müller, University Medical Center Mainz