Ming the Mollusk, the oldest clam ever found, was 507 years old, according to tests. But Ming died prematurely thanks to the scientists who determined the age.
The clam was found off the coast of Iceland in 2006 and British scientists estimated from the lines on its shell that Ming was 402 years old, the Christian Science Monitor reported.
They named Ming for the Chinese royal dynasty that reigned from 1368-1644. The clam would have been born during that era.
In order to examine the clam further and get an official age, the clam had to be opened, which led to Ming being killed in the process. The age of 507 was determined by more advanced measurements, such as Carbon-14 dating, ScienceNordic reported.
Had the team used the outer shell to measure initially, they could have kept Ming alive, according to CBS News.
“On the outside, the mollusc shell is curved, and that makes it difficult to get the right angle for measuring and counting the growth rings,” scientist Paul Butler told ScienceNordic. “The growth rings are also better protected inside the hinge ligaments.”
The problem with the interior ligaments’ rings, though, was that all 507 rings were condensed into a few millimeters. This led to the poor dating in 2006.
The BBC reported that there had been some backlash to the team of scientists killing the clam. The scientists responded: “The same species of clam are caught commercially and eaten daily; anyone who has eaten clam chowder in New England has probably eaten flesh from this species, many of which are likely several hundred years old.”