Zoops! Scientists are reeling after discovering that they not only killed the world’s oldest creature — but that it is 507 years old.
The deep-sea clam – known as an ocean quahog – was discovered in the North Atlantic near Iceland in 2006.
Researchers put it in a freezer for later study, unaware of its old age.
Initially, scientists from Bangor University concluded it was 400 years old based on a counting the rings on its shell.
A quahog’s shell grows by a layer every year, in the summer when the water is warmer and food is plentiful. It means that when its shell is cut in half, scientists can count the lines in a similar way trees can be dated by rings in their trunks.
The growth rings can be seen in two places; on the outside of the shell and at the hinge where the two halves meet. The hinge is generally considered by scientists as the best place to count the rings, as it is protected from outside elements.
But because researchers counted the rings at the hinge, they missed the extra 100 that put the quahog at more than 500 years old.
The mollusk was born in 1499 – seven years after Columbus discovered America.
It died in a freezer.