Earth Sciences
Animal Life

What living thing on earth lives the longest?



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In actual lifespan, there are individual plants (notably large coniferous trees) that live many hundreds of years. Some species of trees, such as aspen, reproduce from a single stem into many genetically identical trees. So a colony of these could theoretically live indefinitely in the proper environment. Also, bacteria and viruses enter a dormant phase under certain conditions. While not actively alive, they are not dead either.

Some long-lived individual organisms:

  • Humans can live to over 120 years, elephants to about 80.
  • Individual sea tortoises and koi fish can have lifespans up to 200 to 250 years
  • Among mammals, Bowhead whales have been estimated to live 200 years
  • Black Coral and barrel sponges may live up to 2000 years
  • Methuselah tree - a bristlecone pine within the Inyo National Forest in California has been measured to be over 4,800 years old.
  • Creosote bush - like the aspens and Norway Spruce, the bush constantly branches into clonal colonies, one in the Mojave Desert is estimated at 11,700 years old
  • Mediterranean sea grass (constantly growing colonies) could live up to 100,000 years or more