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Clam Was Really 507 Years Old

Six years ago, we reported on a clam that was found to be over 400 years old. Scientists named the clam Ming, after the Ming Dynasty. Unfortunately, it did not get a name before it was dead.

Fast-forward to 2013. Scientists have now revised Ming's age to 507 years. James Scourse, of Bangor University in the UK, explains how they changed the dating.

The researchers determined Ming's age by counting the number of bands in its shell. This type of clam, the ocean quahog, grows a new band every year.

The 100-year age discrepancy resulted from the 2007 analysis examining a part of Ming's shell where some of the bands were so narrow they couldn't be separated from each other.

Scourse, a marine geologist, says that the new age has been verified against radiocarbon dating and is "pretty much without error."

However, in updating the story six years later, a misunderstanding arose. Many who read the story were under the impression that scientists killed the clam in order to find out how old it was. The truth is that the team collected about 200 clams from the North Atlantic and froze them for study. There was no reason to suspect one was the oldest found living creature on earth before they examined them in the lab. Ming wasn't any bigger than the others. Read the rest of the story at NatGeo Daily News.


(Image credit: Bangor University)


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