Long Life is Something We Compare to Human Age
Long life is something we usually judge by comparing it to human age. If an animal lives longer than most people do, we say it has a long life. But the oldest human on record lived 122 years, and not many animals can match that. So we don’t think that most animals live very long.
But we should really judge the age of an animal according to the group that it belongs to, not according to human age. For instance, most insects live less than one year, so an insect that lives 50 years is really very old. It lives 50 times longer than the average insect. If you could live 50 times longer than the average human, you would live to be more than 3,500 years old!
The longest-living fish is probably the lake sturgeon. These strange-looking creatures may live to be more than 80 years old.
The oldest bird for which an age can be proved was an Andean condor (like the one shown at right). The bird was hatched in a zoo and lived there for 80 years.
Giant tortoises can live more than 150 years. Some tortoises living today were hatched in 1870!
We know that some types of birds can live a very long time. Some people say that a sulphur-crested cockatoo (like the one shown here) lived more than 120 years. But there is no way to prove this claim.
In the horse family, wild donkeys live the longest, up to 47 years. They are the only wild horses that outlive the domestic horse.
“Hippopotamus” is a Greek word meaning “river horse.” Of course, hippos aren’t really horses, but thye do live longer than horses—as long as 50 years.
Gorillas can live a long time, but nobody is sure just how long. The oldest known gorilla lived to be 63 years old at the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas.
Queen termites can live and lay eggs for more than 50 years. And some scientists believe that they can live over 100 years.