In 2006, Ming the clam was found by scientists and later he was killed by those very own scientists. A team of researchers in Bangor University discovered that Ming the clam was the oldest animal in the world, at the ripe age of 507 years. A species of Icelandic clams which are called the ocean quahog.
This clam would have been born in 1499, which means it was alive during the era of the Chinese Ming dynasty. Due to this fact, the team of researchers decided to call the clam Ming. Yet the researchers actually killed the mollusk when they opened up its shell to find out exactly how old this clam was. At the time, the scientists were not actually aware of how extremely old Ming was.
Originally it was believed that the mollusk was around 405 years old, but in 2013, after some considerable advances in aging methodology and technique, Ming the clam age has been revised to 507 years.
Much like counting the rings of a tree, when figuring out the age of a clam you have to count the creature’s growth rings on their shell. Thought it is a little more complicated than just counting, there are seasonal variations that affect how quickly the shell can grow.
When first discovered the team counted the rings at the hinge of the clam, but given how old it was, they had an extremely hard time distinguishing different rings. In a space of millimeters, there were over 500 rings packed together, and many were missed. The new method allowed the scientists to count the rings on the exterior where they were much more evenly spaced. This allowed them to confirm with absolute certainty that Ming was the oldest creature alive – unfortunate that this discovery was what killed it.