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Witbaard was not involved in the study of Ming, but he has read the new article.
The pattern in Ming’s growth rings does not only provide scientists with an accurate age of the animal; the can also provide a unique insight into past climate conditions.One of the bivalve molluscs, also known as ocean quahogs, that the researchers picked up from the Icelandic seabed turned out to be around 405 years old, and thus the world’s oldest animal.However, after taking a closer look at the old mollusc using more refined methods, the researchers found that the animal is actually 100 years older than they thought.It was for this very reason that the British researchers initially chose to count Ming’s growth rings inside the hinge ligaments.This photo shows the growth rings inside the shell, which formed the basis for the new, more accurate, estimate.In years with lots of food, the growth ring is usually wide, whereas a narrow ring indicates a year with less food.
(Photo: Bert Aggenbach, NIOZ)Although Ming has turned out to be a full century older than first thought, the name is still relevant, as the Ming dynasty lasted for almost 300 years (1368-1644).
The new estimate says that the mollusc is actually 507 years old:“We got it wrong the first time and maybe we were a bit hastingly publishing our findings back then.
But we are absolutely certain that we’ve got the right age now,” ocean scientist Paul Butler, who researches into the at Bangor University in Wales, tells Science Nordic.
By examining the various oxygen isotopes in the growth rings, scientists can determine the sea temperature at the time when the shell came into being.) is native to the North Atlantic Ocean and is harvested commercially as a food source.
Prior to the discovery of Ming in 2006, the oldest known mollusc specimen was, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, a 220-year-old ocean quahog, which was caught in 1982 in American waters.
(Photo: Bangor University)In autumn 2006 a team of researchers went on an expedition to Iceland, where they discovered something that made the headlines across the world.