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– patterns that are almost identical in all specimens that have lived in the same area at the same time.“In this way we can use measurements of other shells to determine that we actually arrived at the right age.
The ocean quahog specimens we used for comparison were obviously not as old as Ming, but they have lived in different periods of Ming’s life.
How can we be sure that the British researchers have determined Ming’s correct age this time around?
According to one of the world’s leading mollusc researchers, there is a general agreement within research circles that 507 years is Ming’s correct age:“The age has been confirmed with a variety of methods, including geochemical methods such as the carbon-14 method.
And the really amazing thing is that the pattern in the ocean quahog’s growth rings actually recurs in tree rings.” The discovery of Ming in 2006 has inspired many researchers to try and figure out the secret behind its impressive age.
One leading researcher in this field is the German animal physiologist and marine biologist Doris Abele.
The ‘new’ age means that the mollusc was born in 1499 – only a few years after Columbus visited America for the first time, and more than a decade before Martin Luther’s Reformation of the Catholic Church.
The mollusc’s 507-year-long life came to an abrupt end in 2006 when the British researchers – unaware of the animal’s impressive age – froze the mollusc onboard the ship.
The discovery even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
In years with lots of food, the growth ring is usually wide, whereas a narrow ring indicates a year with less food.