The oldest known whale, the deep-sea diving whale (Cetacea sp.) from the Bering Strait in Alaska, is nearly 3,500 years old, according to new research.
The finding, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, indicates the deep waters of the Bered Strait are home to some of the oldest known animals on Earth.
Researchers have previously determined that Cetacea was about 2,500 to 2,600 years old.
That makes it one of the deepest animals to ever live on Earth, the researchers said.
Researchers also found that some whales from the same area are about 500 years older than the oldest specimens in the research.
For the new study, they analyzed the teeth of more than 6,000 whales that were part of the Alaska Bering Sea Expedition, which visited Bering Straits, including some of Bering’s most remote islands.
The study included a number of new data, including an analysis of the whale’s jaw and teeth.
Scientists also found traces of carbon isotopes, the isotopes of carbon in the atmosphere that tell us how old a species is.
The scientists also compared the isotopic composition of the teeth to other whales that lived about 2 million years ago.
This is the first time scientists have analyzed the whale teeth for the presence of carbon.
Previous studies have determined the age of the animals to be about 1,300 to 1,500.
The team also found the teeth were more likely to have been worn, rather than just washed away, and that some of them were more worn than others.
“This study provides us with a more detailed and nuanced picture of the diet and activity of the deep sea,” said study co-author Jason J. Czolgosz, a professor of paleontology at the University of Washington.
“It’s a little bit different than a typical deep-water whale study, where we’d just look at the bones and say, ‘Well, that’s how old the animal is,’ and then we’re looking at what the teeth are making.”
The scientists say their results provide evidence that the Beryllium-rich deep waters have been home to many deep-ocean species for millions of years.