It’s truly incredible how long some creatures can live. There are animals that so surpass the lifespan of any human that it can be hard to even put it into perspective.
Now, the discovery of one very-old marine creature is really blowing people’s minds: a clam believed to be 214 years old.
For perspective, that would mean the clam was born in 1809, the same year as Abraham Lincoln — so naturally, the clam has been dubbed “Aber-clam Lincoln.”
According to Tallahassee Democrat, the centuries-old quahog clam was found by Americorps member Blaine Parker, who was collecting shellfish at Alligator Point in Florida.
He was gathering the shellfish to cook up a chowder, and while the giant clam —reportedly weighing a hefty 2.6 pounds, far larger than average — would’ve made quite a tempting meal, it was thankfully spared from the pot when Blaine sensed it was one-of-a-kind.
“We were just going to eat it, but we thought about it a while and figured it was probably pretty special. So, we didn’t want to kill it,” he told the Democrat.
He took the clam to the aquarium at the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab. There, scientists were able to use the bands of light on the clam’s shell to estimate its age.
Each growth band equates to a year of life, so the clam’s 214 layers mean that it dates all the way back to 1809. It’s hard to even fathom how much of world history this clam has lived through.
It’s not unheard of for quahog clams to live over 200 years, but still Abra-clam is one of the oldest known clams in history: according to the Tallahassee Democrat, it’s the fourth-oldest clam on record.
Lincoln still has a long way to go before setting the all-time record: a 507-year-old quahog clam was discovered in 2006, setting the Guinness World Record for the “oldest animal ever.” That clam was named “Ming,” because it was born all the way back in China’s Ming dynasty.
But maybe Abra-clam Lincoln could set the record in a few centuries — who knows how much life it has left to live?
Thankfully, the clam was put back into the wild on February 24, released along the Gulf Coast. “We just figured he won’t live very well in captivity,” Blaine told the Tallahassee Democrat. “And I think he’s earned the right to stay out there.”
What a remarkable creature — it’s astounding to think about how much world history this clam has lived through. We’re glad that after all this time it didn’t end up in a chowder!
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