Patterico's Pontifications


A Scientific “Good News, Bad News”

Filed under: Environment — DRJ @ 8:16 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Scientists off Iceland’s north coast have found the world’s oldest living animal – a clam estimated to be 405 years old:

“A clam that lived on the seabed in the frigid waters off Iceland’s north coast has been hailed as the longest-lived animal ever discovered. The mollusc, which is thought to have lurked beneath the waves until at least the age of 405, would have been a juvenile when Galileo picked up his first telescope, Hamlet was first staged and the gunpowder plot failed to blow up King James I.

The Arctica islandica clam was plucked from 80m-deep water by researchers at Bangor University in Wales, who were dredging the north Iceland shelf for the creatures. By studying their shells, the scientists hope to learn how the marine environment has changed in recent centuries. The clam was alive when it was brought to the surface, but at that point, the researchers had no idea how old it was. Only after cutting through the shell and counting annual growth rings under a microscope did they date the mollusc to between 405 to 410 years old.

“Its death is an unfortunate aspect of this work, but we hope to derive lots of information from it,” said Al Wanamaker, a postdoctoral scientist on the university’s Arctica team. “For our work it’s a bonus, but it wasn’t good for this particular animal.”

Good news for scientists, bad news for the clam.


13 Responses to “A Scientific “Good News, Bad News””

  1. They’re missing a big bet if they don’t dry it, grind it into powder and sell it as a longevity elixir.

    nk (7aed24)

  2. no nk, you section the clam into 1/2 inch steaks, pound lightly with an abalone tenderizer, dredge them in panko crumbs, then flash saute in herbed butter, a squeeze of lemon at the end and paired with a decent chardonnay.

    assistant devil's advocate (7164db)

  3. The good news Mr. Chowder is that you’ll live over 400 years. The bad news is your new home is very cold salt water and it’s always dark-thirty. And watch out for those future science types, to them you clams all look about twenty something. I can see you have a very positive attitude, which is a known life extending trait. So if you keep your mouth shut and maintain a low profile, I’ll see you back here in say a century or two…

    allan (a03ccb)

  4. There is something very grimly poetic in this news story. ‘We found the oldest animal on the planet when we killed it.’

    ADA – Damn, that sounds good.

    Schmoe (a8060f)

  5. He gave his life for science — and hopefully, a good dinner.

    Dana (3e4784)

  6. Allan – That sounds like a good place to stash that Chowderhead Alphie.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  7. Reminds me of the story of the endangered species biologist who heads off into the deepest jungle, hooks up with the primitive locals and shows the pictures of species thought to be extinct.
    So the locals went out and cooked some for dinner

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  8. It is like that, which means this is veering into an Aggie scientist thread.

    DRJ (5c60fb)

  9. An Aggie is hiking in the mountains and he meets an old man tending a flock of lambs. Wanting to show off, he tells him that he can guess exactly how many lambs there are in the flock. The shepherd says, “That’s impossible, son, even if you tried to count them they’re always moving around and you’ll never get to the end”.

    The Aggie challenges him, “If I guess exactly will you give me a lamb?” The old man says, “Sure”. The Aggie says, “Four hundred seventeen”.

    The shepherd is amazed: “That’s exactly right. How did you do it?” The Aggie says, “Never mind how I did it. Do I get the lamb?” The shepherd says, “Yes. Go pick out the one you want.”

    The Aggie comes back with the animal under his arm. The old man says, “Hey, sonny. If I guess what college you went to, will you give me back the animal?” The Aggie says, “Sure”.

    The shepherd says, “You’re an Aggie”. It’s the Aggie’s turn to be amazed: “That’s right. How could you tell?”

    The old man says: “Never mind how I could tell. Just put down the dog and get out of here.”

    nk (7aed24)

  10. Any one who wants to ease the restrictions for illegal aleins are not a idiot their a traitor

    krazy kagu (b3aac5)

  11. #10
    I didn’t realize the clam was an illegal!

    Sorry couldn’t resist.

    Voice of Reason (10af7e)

  12. PETA wil be glad to know clams have feelings too.
    ” Unlike scallops, they cannot propel themselves, but burrow down into the sea bed where they filter and feed on a constant rain of nutrient-rich phytoplankton.

    “It’s a mind-boggling amount of time to be sat there doing that,” said Dr Wanamaker.

    Thank you good Doctor, we often think the same thing as the clams while pajama typing.

    SiliconDoc (da9276)

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