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What Are the Longest Living Animals?

October 22, 2018
longest living animals

Humans live a pretty long time — estimates for human lifespans generally fall between 70 and 80 years — but humans don’t even come close to outliving some of the planet’s oldest creatures. For some animal species, living past 100 is the norm, not the exception. Some scientists even think other species can teach humans a thing or two about aging well.

Studying earth’s longest living animals benefits people for a myriad of reasons. It can allow us to understand the biological aging process better, discover conditions that make for long lifespans and even understand how to protect our planetary elders. In addition to practical reasons, though, humans are fascinated by old animals because they represent the Earth’s past. It’s amazing to think that some animals alive today have been around since before the United States became a country.

Some of the planet’s oldest animals have endured changing climate conditions, predators and disease. They remind us that the results of our actions today can affect the environment not just now but for years and years to come.

There are plenty of reasons the world’s longest living animals deserve admiration. So let’s take a look at who some of these animals are and how they do it — put on your party hats because we have a lot of birthdays to celebrate.

Bowhead Whale, Balaena mysticetus

Native to the chilly waters of the Arctic, this whale species can grow up to 60 feet long and live for longer than 200 years. Scientists apparently discovered the Bowhead’s longevity after finding an old spearhead lodged in one whale’s blubber. Further tests on the whales’ eye tissue revealed that Bowheads can, in fact, live for more than two centuries.

The Bowhead Whale’s capacity for a long life could be related to its cold habitat. The whale’s cold environment could lead to low body temperature, which can cause slower metabolism and less tissue damage. A slower metabolism is one of several physiological traits that promote long life.

Galapagos Tortoise, Chelonoidis nigra

Slow and steady wins the race, right? The giant tortoises famously visited by Charles Darwin win their races by outliving the competition. These tortoises can live more than 100 years in the wild, and one tortoise named Harriet died in 2006 at the age of 175. These slow-moving creatures also have slow metabolisms and internal water storage that allow them to survive up to a year without eating or drinking.

Unfortunately, these tortoises are somewhat endangered as a result of past hunting and the introduction of non-native species such as cats, cattle and feral pigs to their island home. Though they live long lives, Galapagos tortoises suffer the effects of human expansion and population growth just like other species do.

Ocean Quahog, Arctica islandica

Ocean quahog are bivalve clams native to the North Atlantic. Scientists can approximate the age of these clams by examining the rings on their shells like they might tree rings. These clams commonly live more than 100 years and some specimens found were more than 400 years old. Believe it or not, people often harvest these ancient clams for food.

Some research suggests that ocean quahog might live so long due to their increased resistance to oxidative stress, which wears on cells and leads to reduced cellular function over time.

Tuatara, Sphenodon punctatus

The New Zealand tuatara is probably the closest thing you’ll find today to a living dinosaur. These lizard-like creatures are the last living members of the order Rhynchocephalia. The other members of this order went extinct around 60 million years ago.

Tuataras can live upwards of 100 years. One tuatara living in captivity, for example, became a first-time father at age 111. Unfortunately, the tuatara is endangered and threatened by predators and habitat loss.

The Immortal Jellyfish, Turritopsis dohrnii

Finally, the animal species with perhaps the longest possible lifespan is this so-called immortal jellyfish. When under stress from the environment, members of this species can revert back to earlier life stages, allowing them to grow and mature once more to repair the damage. Though these jellyfish can still die from predators and other dangers, they are technically immortal, as they could potentially cycle through life stages indefinitely.

Scientists don’t yet understand how the immortal jellyfish is able to undergo this process. However, studying it could greatly benefit human medical research in the future.

Sharing the Earth

Humans share the earth with some incredible animals, including some that are incredibly old. The more we understand about these creatures, the better we can protect them and ourselves from danger. Hopefully, with a little work from conservationists, these species will stay with us for even more years to come.

Wildlife

How Can You Participate In National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month?

October 8, 2018

There’s nothing better than having a little furry family member ready to greet you when you get home every day. Nothing, that is, other than adopting one from a shelter or animal rescue. October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. If you don’t already have a dog — or if you do — how can you participate in this awesome month-long event?

Start at Your Local Shelter

The best place to start during National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month is at your local animal shelter. Depending on where you live and how many animals are currently staying in the shelter, you may be able to find the perfect new four-legged member to add to your family. Many animal shelters run events and offer discounts on adoption fees during this month to encourage adoption.

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Wildlife

How to Put an End to Makeup Testing on Animals

September 24, 2018

When people walk into stores across the world, they’re thinking about what they need to buy and how quickly they can get out of there. That’s to be expected, especially when brands don’t advertise how they make their products in the stores where they’re sold.

If people do more research into what products they use on a daily basis, they’re able to make informed decisions about what they’re buying. The few minutes it’ll take to learn about this process could actually end up saving lives.

Animal testing is commonly acknowledged as a way that companies test products before putting them on the market, but the damage done to animals is extensive. Read on to learn how exactly you can help put an end to the dangerous and lethal ways that animals are used for product testing so you can ensure you’re promoting cruelty-free companies and using ethically made products.

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Wildlife

Tips for Teaching Wildlife Conservation for Kids

September 10, 2018
wildlife conservation for kids

Childhood lessons continue to influence kids throughout their lives, which is why it’s so important to make sure you’re teaching your kids what they need to know about life and the planet. By teaching your kids about wildlife conservation today, you can help ensure they’re kind to their environment even when they’re all grown up.

As climate change and unsustainable practices continue around the world, people are spending more and more leisure time inside in front of screens. In order to remedy this common disconnect from the natural world, make sure you’re helping your kids develop an appreciation for nature early in life. The more they get involved with the outdoors, the more they’ll understand the importance of protecting the planet.

Though Shakespeare definitely wasn’t talking about kid conservationists, it’s true that, though your kids be but little, they are fierce. They have the power to build a sustainable future, as long as you help them see why it’s important. Here are some tips you can use to teach wildlife conservation for kids.

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Wildlife

Why Are Elephants Important to the African Ecosystem?

August 27, 2018
elephants important

When learning about any animal, it’s easy to focus on the creature’s bodily features, behaviors and habitat without stopping to think about how they influence their native ecosystems. Take the elephant, for example. It’s a gigantic creature that has captured the interest of people through the years. Observers appreciate their huge ears, smooth tusks and leathery skin. But why are elephants important to the African ecosystem? Here are five reasons.

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Wildlife

National Honey Bee Day: Why Honey Bees Aren’t the Bees We Need to Worry About

August 13, 2018
National Honey Bee Day

National Honey Bee Day is August 19th, and it’s certainly a good idea to pause and be thankful for the way that honey bees provide the sweet stuff we love to spread on our toast, put into oatmeal and use for flavoring our tea and coffee. Honey bees are undoubtedly important to our eco-system.

However, when people urge others to “save the bees” — a statement which has recently intensified — it’s likely only honey bees that are on their minds. There are more than 25,000 species of bees besides the Western honey bee that many individuals know best. Honey bees produce honey, and they’re pollinators, but there are tens of thousands of other bees getting ignored.

Analysts say it’s even difficult to precisely say how many species of bees exist because relatively few have hives. Since they don’t return to dedicated places and instead roam freely, counting them becomes impossible.

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Wildlife

How Overpopulation Leads to Animal Extinction

July 19, 2018
animal extinction

Many scientists believe we’re entering the Earth’s sixth mass-extinction event, which could result in the loss of three-quarters of the planet’s species in the next few centuries. A recent study found that around one-third of land-based vertebrate species are experiencing reduced populations and territorial ranges.

Humans are one of the species that has experienced population growth in recent years. In fact, so many people are on the planet today that we’re driving the population reduction of other species, as well as a host of other environmental problems.

If this trend of destruction continues, it might result in the eventual downfall of not only many of the earth’s animal species but the human race as well.

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Wildlife

Reasons Why Endangered Species Stay Endangered

July 2, 2018
endangered species stay endangered

Republican President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act, which had broad bipartisan support, into law in 1973. The law lists certain species as endangered and threatened and aims to protect these at-risk animals. The ESA is believed to have saved 99 percent of the species it has listed.

Since then, the ESA has endured attacks from lawmakers and special interests. On the recent Endangered Species Act day on March 28, 1,452 scientists and experts sent a letter to Congress urging members not to approve several bills they said would undermine the Act’s scientific foundations.

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Wildlife

Why Are Elephants So Heavily Poached?

June 18, 2018
elephants so heavily poached

Elephants are massive creatures, known for their nubile trunks and astonishing ivory tusks. Most species of elephant are also endangered, thanks in no small part to the actions of hunters and poachers. Surprisingly, it’s not the tusks that these poachers are after anymore. Why, then, are elephants still being so heavily poached, and what can we do to protect these majestic giants?

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Wildlife

How Big Business Affects Wildlife

June 7, 2018
big business affects wildlife

Progress is almost inevitable as the human population grows, but it comes with a hefty price tag — damage to the environment. Businesses either positively or negatively impact the environment around them. Once you’re aware of the many ways business affects wildlife in your area, you realize small changes make a big difference.

Humans play a role in the extinction of plants and animals around the world. One study found that without human interference, many additional species would roam the earth today. Big business and industrial growth impact wildlife in different ways. Fortunately, there are solutions to each problem.

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