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What Are Some of the World’s Longest Living Animals?

Major Mitchell's Cockatoo flying into a western waterhole to drink at sunrise
Stephen Aveling-Rowe/Shutterstock

It’s amazing how long some animals can live. Humans have short life spans compared to some of the creatures that roam Earth with us. Even some pets, like parrots, commonly outlive their owners.

Some species of parrots, ones that people keep as pets, have an average life span of up to 75 years. The average global life span of humans as of 2019 is 72.6 years old. Of course, the oldest person on record lived to 122 years old, and the following animals are listed with their oldest age on record rather than average life span.

Here are some animals that will outlive many of us (and a few that are sure to outlive a few generations of humans).

Andean Condor

Andean Condors clock in as one of the largest flying birds in the world, weighing up to 33 pounds. They have a 10-foot wingspan and spend their time living in windy areas around South America. (The winds help them keep their big bodies soaring through the air.)

These giant birds can live more than 75 years in captivity. Because a pair of Andean condors can only produce one offspring every other year, and both have to hang out to raise the baby, the birds are slow to reproduce.

Australian Lungfish

While the Australian Lungfish only have a general life expectancy of around 25 years, there is one lungfish that far surpassed the age to which it should have lived. Dubbed Granddad, one captive lungfish lived at the Shedd Aquarium and was over 80 years old before it was euthanized in 2015.

Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo

Cockatoos have a usual lifespan of 60 years at most. One beautiful pink cockatoo, a Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, surpassed that lifespan a couple of decades.

Cookie, a former resident of Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, lived to be 83 years old. The bird passed away in 2016.

European Eel

In the wild, European eels only live 10 to 15 years. (Like many animals, a life in captivity greatly expands the life span.) For this species of eel, the oldest record of age clocks in at a whopping 88 years. A female European eel, called “Putte,” spent a long life in Halsinborgs Museum in Sweden.

Bowhead Whale

Many species of whales have extended life spans, often more than 80 years. Of all the whales, the Bowhead has the longest life expectancy of up to (and possibly over) 200 years.

The Bowhead whale may live so long because they seem to be resistant to aging, as well as illnesses like cancer. Bowhead whales are, uniquely, the only whales to stay in the Arctic waters and not migrate to warm water for feeding and reproducing.

American Lobster

Rumor has it that the American Lobster is immortal., which is not entirely true. This particular species of lobster enjoys its life in the Atlantic, where the chilly waters keep its metabolism running slow. That slow metabolism enables these lobsters to live to the ripe old age of 100.

Some people believe that if it weren’t for humans catching them and diseases befalling them, American Lobsters could live forever, or at least past a century.

Lake Sturgeon

Lake Sturgeon are a neat-looking species of fish that are found in both lakes and rivers. They can grow to be up to nine feet long and up to 80 pounds. Known as the largest fish of the Great Lakes, the oldest Lake Sturgeon on record lived to be 152 years old.

Radiated Tortoise

Radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata)
Vladimir Wrangel/Shutterstock

Many species of both turtles and tortoises have life spans of up to 100 years. However, at least a couple of tortoises have surpassed this life expectancy by many years.

Jonathan, a radiated tortoise, is alive and well and turned 187 in 2019. Jonathan doesn’t hold the title for the oldest animal of his kind, though, not yet anyway. Tu’i Malila, another radiated tortoise, was believed to have lived to at least 188.

Red Sea Urchin

While sea urchins might not be the oldest of all creatures on Earth, they are one of the oldest. The Red Sea Urchin has a regular life span of 100 years, but some can live up to 200 years.

Science is an exciting thing. It seems that, initially, these sea urchins were believed to only live about a decade. However, newer discoveries have found they live at least ten times longer!

Greenland Shark

Aging wild animals isn’t the easiest thing for scientists to do. When it comes to the oldest shark, a Greenland Shark that was part of a study in radiocarbon dating may have been 392 years old, but maybe not. The tests gave more of an estimate in age and showed the largest shark of the study could be between 272 and 512; however, scientists estimated its life span at a middle ground at 392.

Ocean Quahog Clam

The final entry here tops off the charts at over five centuries of life. The oldest Ocean Quahog Clam was caught in 2006, and is believed to have been 507 years old! For this clam species, the usual life span ranges from 100 to 200 years.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »