The AnAge Database

The AnAge database is another of the fascinating resources that researcher Joao Pedro de Magalhaes is building into his website.

Welcome to AnAge, a curated database of ageing and life history in animals, including extensive longevity records. AnAge was primarily developed for comparative biology studies, in particular studies of longevity and ageing, but can also be useful for ecological and conservation studies and as a reference for zoos and field biologists.

You might recall that de Magalhaes is one of the folk pushing for genetic sequencing of long-lived mammals:

Among mammals alone there is at least a 40-fold variation in maximum longevity. We still do not know why different species of similar body plan, biochemistry, and physiology can age at such different rates, but these differences must be seated in the genome.

So go and take a stroll around the AnAge toolset. Those of you looking for a quick and interesting result can jump straight to the list of species ordered by current best estimate or record of maximum longevity:

Scolymastra joubini, Hexactinellid sponge: 15,000 years
Pinus longaeva, Great Basin bristlecone pine: 4,731 years
Cinachyra antarctica, Epibenthic sponge: 1,550 years
Arctica islandica, Ocean quahog: 400 years
Balaena mysticetus, Bowhead whale: 211 years
Sebastes aleutianus, Rougheye rockfish: 205 years
Strongylocentrotus franciscanus, Red sea urchin: 200 years

I've mentioned the urchins recently, and clams and whales are back little in the Fight Aging! archives. I'm sure you're all familiar with the bristlecone pine, but what is this 15,000 year sponge? From the AnAge entry:

Animals of this and similar species of Antarctic sponges grow extremely slowly in the low temperatures. Estimates based on growth rates suggest a very long lifespan in this and similar animals. One two meter high specimen in the Ross Sea was estimated to be 23,000 years old, though because of sea level fluctuations in the Ross Sea it is unlikely that such an animal could have lived for more than 15,000 years. Even if 15,000 years is an overestimate, which may well be the case, this specimen appears to be the longest-lived animal on earth.

The Wikipedia entry provides a little more background as to what sort of beast this is. You learn something new every day.

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