SharkGreenland sharks have a lifespan of 392 years, and scientists are searching for their longevity genes in an attempt to lengthen life.

The team of researchers from the Arctic University of Norway have taken fin clippings from almost 100 of the sharks, including some that were born in the 1750s.

So far they have mapped out the 16ft shark’s entire mitochondrial DNA, which is the genetic material help in tiny bodies in cells that supply energy. Professor Kim Praebel, who is the leading the study, 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.

The “long life” genes have the potential to shed light on why most vertebrates have such a limited life span, and what determines life expectancy in different species, including humans. Currently, very little is known about the biology and genetics of the shark, which is found in the Atlantic Ocean from Canada to Norway and is found off the coast of Scotland.

The team are currently studying the DNA from the cell nucleus, which contains the bulk of the animal’s genes.

Additionally, the shark’s tissues, bones and DNA could even provide clues about the effects of climate change and pollution over a long time span.

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 conversation actions for this important species.