Back in 2006, scientists removed an ocean quahog, or deep sea clam, from the seas, and discovered it was a whopping 400 years old — eventually it made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. Unfortunately, the scientists also put it in the freezer, as is standard practice, killing it — they only found its age out after the fact. Adding insult to injury, Bangor University recently concluded some follow-up research on the quahog (known as Ming the mollusc), and found that it was even older than they initially realized. Ming lived for a remarkable 507 years before the scientists ended its life.
However, the university specifically pointed out that it didn't purposefully kill the incredible specimen. "The longest-lived clam was collected along with many others and, as it is impossible to age the clams until their shells have been opened, there was no indication of its extreme age until after this had been done," the university writes in a press release. "The notion that scientists knew in advance that it was the longest-lived species and then deliberately destroyed it is plainly incorrect."
According to The Telegraph, the quahog was dated by counting its rings, much like a tree, but further inspection years later revealed that a number of the rings had been compressed. Ming was born in 1499 — a mere seven years after Columbus reached America. This time, the university believes that they won't be announcing Ming is even older a few years down the road. "We got it wrong the first time and maybe we were a bit hasty publishing our findings back then," said Dr. Paul Butler of Bangor's School of Ocean Sciences. "But we are absolutely certain that we've got the right age now."