Bowhead Whale May Be the Planet’s Oldest Living Mammal

https://i0.wp.com/media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/7d/56/6a/7d566ad2ad817b723c787e1f858c12de.jpgby Sean Breslin

Even though a massive storm became the strongest on record for the Bering Sea this week, there’s a creature in those seas that might have seen more punishing storms long before weather conditions were studied in that region of the world.

Some of these mammals are probably older than the novel “Moby-Dick” as well, which was released in 1851.

The Bowhead whale can live to be at least 200 years old, according to Smithsonian.com. It’s a dark-colored whale that can grow to 60 feet long and weigh as much as 60 tons, National Geographic says.

And the oldest of the living species survived a time when nearly every Bowhead whale was killed by fishermen. Yankee commercial whaling killed all but about 1,000 bowhead whales from 1848 to 1915, according to Alaska Dispatch News.

http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/Education/oceanlife/images/bowhead_2.jpg

Now, there are more than 14,000 of the animals alive, according to scientists’ estimates, and the surviving ancestors have been proven to be nearly two centuries old because of the primitive hunting tools found in some of their bodies, ADN adds.

Herman Melville wrote “Moby-Dick” after spending a brief period aboard a whaling ship, Smithsonian.com reports. None of Alaska’s whales are white, as was the albino sperm whale that stole the show in Melville’s novel, but it’s amazing to think that a living species of the mammal may have been crossed by the writer before he wrote that 163-year-old story.

These cold-water whales are easily among the oldest mammals on Earth, but it’s unclear if the Bowhead whale takes the crown for the eldest creature alive right now. Mother Nature Network says the oldest Bowhead whale lived to be 211 years old, but a tortoise named Adwaita was believed to be 250 years old at the time of its death in 2006.

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