Or at least it was until recently. Scientists from Bangor University in Wales dredged up this Arctica islandica clam off the north coast of Iceland. After sectioning the shell and counting annual growth rings under a microscope they dated the clam to between 405 and 410 years-old. This breaks the official record of 220 years held by another clam of the same species.
The researchers aren’t sure why clams of this species live so long but hope to study and find out. They think it’s likely there are some 600 year-old clams out there in the water.
And as far as killing the “world’s oldest living animal”:
“Its death is an unfortunate aspect of this work, but we hope to derive lots of information from it,” said Al Wanamaker, a postdoctoral scientist on the university’s Arctica team. “For our work it’s a bonus, but it wasn’t good for this particular animal.”