Scientists have just added a large, sucker-mouthed fish to the growing list of centenarian animals.
A new study using bomb radiocarbon dating has catalogued a bigmouth buffalo that lived to 112 years, crushing the previous known maximum age for the species(26) by more than fourfold.
That makes the bigmouth buffalo, native to North America, the oldest age-validated freshwater bony fish, reports the National Geographic.
The team removed thin slices of otolith – small calcified structures that help fish balance while they swim – from 386 wild-caught bigmouth buffalo. The researchers then used a microscope to count the growth rings on each slice of otolith. Their first counts yielded estimates of fish that live more than 80 and 90 years old.
To validate these estimates, the researchers turned to bomb radiocarbon dating, a well-established method that compares the amount of the isotope carbon-14 in animal tissue to concentrations of carbon-14 released in the mid-20th century during atomic bomb testing. The method has been used to age everything from human remains to sharks.
In total, five bigmouth buffalo surpassed 100 years of age, but a 22-pound female became the 112-year-old record-setter.