One Ancient Mollusk

Different animals can reach different lifespans, but one being in general has to be older than others, right? Check out today’s Snapple fact: “The oldest living animal ever found was a 405-year-old clam, named Ming by researchers.”

Snapple Ming

Pretty old, huh?

Ming was an Arctica Islandica Bivalve Mollusk, also known as an ocean quahog, which was discovered in 2006 in Iceland and it got its name from the Ming Dynasty, which was the dynasty in China during its birth. In order to discover its age, the researchers had to open up Ming and count the rings inside, much like how you find out how old a tree is. Unfortunately Ming died in the process but its age was revealed to be 405, which, excluding some jellyfish which can be considered immortal, makes it the oldest animal in the world…

Only image of Ming the clam; Image from

…Except it was older than what the researchers originally thought. On another count, the researchers discovered Ming to be 507 years old instead! Quite a margin of error, but at least Ming’s true age is now revealed.

That would mean that Ming was born in 1499. This single clam was around during King Henry VIII’s rule in England, Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of the Mona Lisa, and just missed Columbus’s voyage to the Americas by a year. Just something to think about.

Final verdict: True…ish. Ming was indeed the oldest living animal discovered, but was much older than the age of 405 that researchers estimated in the beginning.



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