New research reveals Ming the Mollusk actually 100 years older than thought

Nov 14, 2013 by Bob Yirka weblog
Arctica Islandica

(Phys.org) —A team of international researchers has, after conducting a new, more thorough study of the clam known as Ming the Mollusk, found it to be 507 years old, making it 102 years older than was originally thought.

The saga of the famous clam began back in 2006 when pulled the ocean quahog (Arctica islandica) from the bottom of the sea near Iceland. Scientists have known for quite some time that a clam's can be found by counting the bands in its shell—a new one is grown each summer. The original count was 405, which meant that the clam was the oldest organism ever found. Now, it appears that the original researchers made some mistakes—a new count reveals that the clam actually has 507 bands, which means it was born in 1499.

The age of the clam caused great excitement in the press at the time, leading the research team to christen the mollusk Ming, after the Chinese dynasty. Unfortunately, the same research team split the clam open to get a look inside, killing it, thus, it has not aged since. But still, the record remains.

This time around, the researchers used a variety of techniques to verify the clam's age. In addition to counting the bands on its outside and near the ligaments where the shells of the two halves join, the team used carbon-14 dating and even compared changes in more recent growth bands with other organisms that lived in the same environment. They are confident they have the age right this time.

Pushing the year back over a century means the clam was born just a few years after Columbus discovered America, and was sitting down there at the bottom of the ocean through the Reformation, the establishment of the Romanov dynasty in Russia, the building of the Taj Majal in India, two world wars—countless moments in human history.

Finding such an example of an organism that lives so long has spurred research into how it achieves such a feat, and perhaps, ways that we humans might gain some years as well (the study was partly funded by the organization "Help The Aged"). Also, by studying each band layer, researchers are able to ascertain the ocean temperature for every year over the past five centuries—data that is sure to prove helpful in measuring the impact of greenhouse gases on global warming.

Explore further: An intersection of math and biology: Clams and snails inspire robotic diggers and crawlers (w/ Video)

More information: www.werh.org/Communicating%20S… nts/JamesScourse.pdf
seefurtherfestival.org/exhibit… t-lived-animal-earth

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User comments : 10

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Scottingham
5 / 5 (8) Nov 14, 2013
-1 for killing it
zapme
5 / 5 (4) Nov 14, 2013
'The oldest living flesh and blood organism on the planet! LET'S KILL IT!'

I hope they ate it at least.
Crucialitis
5 / 5 (2) Nov 14, 2013
We cut the goose open and are now wondering where the golden eggs are.
hemitite
5 / 5 (2) Nov 14, 2013
"He that kills a clam to find out its age has left the path of wisdom."

- Gandalf's sock puppet
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Nov 14, 2013
climate researchers pulled the ocean quahog (Arctica islandica) from the bottom of the sea near Iceland
Climate researchers ARE a ruthless bloodthirsty lot arent they?
jmlvu
not rated yet Nov 14, 2013
Same thing happened with the oldest tree on earth. The researcher changed fields but has been rightfully dogged for cutting it down.
kelman66
1 / 5 (1) Nov 14, 2013
They killed it??? Morons
QuixoteJ
not rated yet Nov 15, 2013
I'm with you guys... They are idiotic morons for cutting the thing open. The oldest living organism ever found... At least cut open the second oldest one or something, but not the champ. Let it keep going.
overcurious
not rated yet Nov 16, 2013
Thank goodness everyone here commenting is as incredulous as I that the morons killed the animal. What a bunch of maroons
VendicarE
not rated yet Nov 17, 2013
Of course, the age wasn't known until the clam had been opened and killed.

Odd how the retards posting here don't seem to know that.