The longest-lived vertebrate of all....

This is a weird little fact which I've known for a while, but I thought readers might get a kick out of it. What is the longest-lived vertebrate individual which we have records to the extent that we can confirm with a high degree of certitude? You can guess the age and the rough species, but click below the fold for the answer. As hints I will state that the age was in excess of 150 years, and that the individual was not a tortoise.


It was a koi named Hanako who made it to the age of 226 years. Hanako was born in 1751, and died in 1977. (I notice this was posted on Boing Boing, so likely many of you already know this)

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The obvious question is: what was the cause of death?

I think Noah lived to be ~950 years (+/- 10 or so). It's all there in the bible. (You don't doubt the bible, do you?). But 226 years for a koi is pretty impressive.

It would be fascinating to know what bait was used to finally hook him after all those years. That must have been one proud fisherman!

Obviously this koi was fed a wholly organic diet of fruits and vegetables. What I can't quite figure out is how one would give a coffee enema to a fish.

haha Divalent must really be christian, and not just being sarcastic ... the clue: He Thinks noah lived to be 950, he isnt actually familiar enough with the bible to be sure.

From Wikipedia:

"Koi were developed from common carp in Japan in the 1820s"

Hanako was allegedly born 7 decades before this. I call BS.

By Pinbacker (not verified) on 19 Sep 2009 #permalink

Methuselah lived to be 969 years. You can't say I didn't learn anything while being homeschooled by cultish parents. Yay

The ultimate replacement goldfish?

[Hanako, Methuselah, whatever]

Wiki also says "Carp are known as koi in Japan." and "The word 'koi' comes from Japanese, simply meaning "carp." It includes both the dull grey fish and the brightly colored varieties. What are known as 'koi' in English are referred to more specifically as 'nishikigoi' in Japan (literally meaning 'brocaded carp'). "

Group editing means that it's impossible to be sure what's meant. The fish may just be anaturally occurring orange-colored carp.

It seems unlikely that the age estimate was based on examination of the scales, since the claim is that the same family had been keeping the koi all that time. But it's not impossible that the family had had an old koi continuously for 226, but not the same old koi, sort of like the dog Lassie in the movies, of whom there have been more than ten. (All guys, all fixed. I met a retired Lassie in Portland, OR, and he wasn't all stuck up, just a regular dog.)

By John Emerson (not verified) on 20 Sep 2009 #permalink

I thought it was a grouper or some other deep-sea fish that just keeps growing and growing... some of them are supposed to be big enough to suck in a human diver.

This sounds fishy to me, Razib. Or are you just being coy?