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Q and A Banner - #3 (World Records-1)

Monday, August 8, 2011


Photograph believed to be of Jonathan around 1900
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Well, that answer might be pretty hard to answer considering there's still much of our vast world we have yet to discover and uncover.   But what has been discovered and uncovered revealed that Jonathan, the Seychelles Giant tortoise, is believed to be the oldest living animal on earth today at 178-years-old. He lives on the island of Saint Helena.

It is often said that the turtle has long been a staple of Asian belief and culture. From bearing the world upon its back, to symbolizing creation, longevity, wisdom, and health, the turtle is a source of great power.

Jonathan was brought to the island from the Seychelles in 1882, along with three other tortoises at about 50 years of age.  He was named in the 1930s by Governor Sir Spencer Davis.  He continues to live in the grounds of the official residence of the Governor, at Plantation House, and belongs to the government of Saint Helena.

His remarkable existence and possible age was realized when a photograph was uncovered from a collection of Boer War images, taken by a man named L.A. Innes who had a studio in the British overseas territory's capital Jamestown,  showing a tortoise next to a war prisoner around the year 1900.  On December 5, 2008, the Daily Mail published a story claiming Jonathan is the same tortoise pictured in the photograph stating him to be about 70 years old at the time of the photo.

The previous record-holder of world's oldest living tortoise was Adwaita, an Aldabra giant tortoise that died in 2006 in the Alipore Zoological Gardens of Kolkata, India, and whose approximate age was later determined through carbon dating to be 255. The all-time verified record holder according to the Guinness World Records is Tui Malila, who died in Madagascar in 1965 at the age of 189.
The previous oldest tortoise also, was widely thought to be Harriet, a giant Galapagos Land tortoise, who died in 2005 aged 175 in Australia.

Did you know?

In October 2007 an Arctica islandica clam, caught off the coast of Iceland, was discovered to be at least 405 years old, and was declared the world's oldest living animal by researchers from Bangor University.
One valve of the shell of Ming,
a clam estimated to be
405-410 years old

Ming was its name.  Judging by the annual growth rings on the its shell, Ming was believed to be in the region of 405–410 years old when it was caught.  The claim was made by researchers at Bangor University, including Dr. Alan Wanamaker. The researchers are uncertain how long the clam, which died during the assessment process, might have lived had it been left on the ocean floor. The clam was named after the Ming Dynasty due to its age.  Since its discovery, the general public has taken a strong interest in the clam, perhaps because of its appearance on a Snapple bottle cap fact.
Scientists are hoping the discovery of Ming will help aid in researching the aging process, and how some animals 'escape' old age.

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