SCIENTISTS are studying a type of shark which can live up to 400 years in the hope to finding the key to long life.
The Greenland Shark has a life span of around 390 years, and experts are picking apart its DNA in the hoping of finding the fountain of youth.
The ocean animal is thought to have unique longevity genes which scientists are hoping to better understand so that in the future, they can edit humans genes to have the same longevity, giving us a massively increased lifespan.
Professor Kim Praebel, from the Arctic University of Norway, said: “This is the longest living vertebrate on the planet.
“Together with colleagues in Denmark, Greenland, USA, and China, we are currently sequencing its whole nuclear genome which will help us discover why the Greenland shark not only lives longer than other shark species but other vertebrates.”
Prof Praebel’s team has been taking tiny clippings from the giant 16 feet beasts, some of which were born around the 1750s.
They have managed to map the complete mitochondrial DNA and the next step will see them work on DNA from the cell nucleus.
The “long life” genes in the shark will shed light on why vertebrates, including humans, have such a limited lifespan and what can be done to change that.
The ancient shark is also described as “living time capsule” and the team hope that by studying the Greenland Shark, they will be able to see human impact on the ocean.
Prof Praebel added: “The longest living vertebrate species on the planet has formed several populations in the Atlantic Ocean.
“This is important to know, so we can develop appropriate conservation actions for this important species.”