While reading articles about Maria Olivia da Silva in Brazil, a lady who has allegedly hit the grand old age of 125, it is worth recalling remarks from a recent profile of the Gerontology Research Group:
GRG's 40 volunteers - a loose, international network of demographers, gerontologists, epidemiologists and self-styled "hobbyists" - are dedicated to verifying the ages of the world's oldest people, and to learning the secrets of their longevity. But to do so, they must contend with dishonest schemers, governments that gleefully support false claims and what researchers call "the invisible barrier of 115."
Because almost no one who reaches age 114 ever sees 115, the group is skeptical of any claims to ages higher than that. GRG investigators dismiss a man now being celebrated in Cuba who says he is 124 but who has no documents. A woman in the Caribbean island nation of Dominica supposedly was 128 when she died in 2003. Her ripe old age was "a falsehood perpetrated by the tourism industry there," says GRG co-founder L. Stephen Coles, a physician and stem-cell researcher at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, where GRG is based. GRG counts just 12 undisputed cases of people ever reaching 115.
The oldest human ever certified was a French woman who died at age 122 in 1997.