The most popular mammals are elephants, monkeys, and humans. These animals have similar physical characteristics, such as body hair, mammary glands in females, and three bones in the ear. The most shocking addition to the mammal roster is the gigantic ocean-dwelling whale.
While mammals grow to enormous sizes, much like their ocean counterparts, some species have long lifespans. Listed below are 10 of the oldest living mammals in the world.
10. Bats – 41 Years
Often, small-sized animals have short lifespans. Bats are one of the exceptions, as they have an average lifespan of 10 to 30 years. Despite the presence of wing features, bats are mammals, much like their short-lived wingless cousins, the mouse. Some incredible bat facts include their nocturnal nature, upside-down sleeping posture, and sensitive eyesight.
According to the Guinness World Records, a Siberian bat, formerly classified as a Brandt bat, aged over 41 years, crowning it the longest-living bat. Scientists believe these Asian bats undergo mutation of their growth hormones, which is a major factor in their longevity.
9. Tapirs – 42 Years
Tapirs are one of the most distinctive-looking animals. These wild animals look like pigs and have nose trunks shorter than elephants. They are usually docile herbivores but can inflict strong bites on humans when threatened. Adult tapirs can weigh over 700 pounds and often live between 20-30 years.
According to the Guinness World Records, Kingut, a Malayan tapir born in Indonesia, is the oldest tapir worldwide. Kingut spent most of his life in England before passing at the record age of 42. One incredible fact about tapirs is that they are remarkable swimmers, which helps them get away from predators. Some common predators are tigers and jaguars.
8. Monkeys – 50 Years
Monkeys have a lifespan of 10 to 35 years. Monkeys are closely related to apes, but they are smaller primates. Some common species of monkeys are capuchins, baboons, and spider monkeys. A major difference between apes and monkeys is the presence of long tails in monkeys and their narrower chests.
Large monkeys like baboons, mandrills, and capuchins live up to 40 years in captivity. According to the New England Primate Conservancy, the oldest mandrill in captivity lived for 46 years. However, most monkeys hardly grow older than 30.
7. Bears – 50 Years
Bears are large furry, and powerful mammals that live in diverse ecosystems around the world. These large omnivores can grow more than 2,000 pounds and over 10 feet. Bears age longer than most land animals, with an average lifespan of 15 to 35 years. This average might vary between the different species, such as the brown, black, panda, and polar bears, which are the largest.
However, there are exceptions, as some bears age longer due to conditions such as heavy feeding and a low number of predators. Based on account of the Guinness World Records, the oldest brown bear in captivity lived for 50 years; a Greek bear named Andreas.
6. Rhinos – 57 Years
Rhinoceroses are some of the strongest animals worldwide. These large mammals have a lifespan of 35 to 50 years. Rhinos are unmistaken in their appearances: their keratin horns, leather skin, and broad legs. These herbivores have five known species that range between gray, brown, and black colors. They are often found in savanna, grasslands, and bushlands.
According to CNN, a black rhino named Fausta became the world’s oldest rhino when he died at 57. Rhinos are not easy prey for the few animals that dare to hunt them, as they can weigh over 7,000 pounds. The black rhino, the fastest rhino species, can reach speeds of up to 34 mph, making it easier for them to face or flee from predators such as lions.
5. Horses – 62 Years
Horses have an average lifespan of 25 to 30 years. However, these large mammals can live up to 60 years in rare events. According to the American Museum of National History, horses have been around for millions of years. With over 200 different breeds, these oddly large herbivores serve many purposes, including racing and transportation, for which they are called “beasts of burden.”
The oldest horse ever recorded was an English horse named Old Billy. Old Billy lived to 62 years, more than the average horse lifespan. According to the Guinness World Records, the record for the oldest thoroughbred racehorse is 42 years. It was a Chestnut Gelding named Tango Duke from Australia. These numbers prove that domesticated horses have longer lifespans than wild horses, as they are provided better medical care and often fed better.
4. Apes – 84 Years
Apes have a maximum lifespan of about 80 years. While similar to monkeys, apes are distinctively larger and have no tails. These large primates are made of about four major species: gibbons, chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos, and gorillas, the largest primates. These primates range in size, with gorillas reaching up to 450 pounds.
The longest-living species of ape is the chimpanzee. While gorillas and orangutans can live up to 60 years, they fall short of the chimpanzee’s lifespan, which can reach 80 years. The oldest chimpanzee ever recorded was called Little Mama, and it was believed that she died between the ages of 78 and 84. It is believed that apes have long lifespans because of their similar physiology to humans and their relatively short list of predators. These mammals are only found naturally in Africa and Asia.
3. Elephants – 88 Years
Elephants have an average lifespan of 60 to 70 years. Unlike humans, elephants are one of the few animals that never stop growing. It is no wonder that the largest elephant, Henry, was 13 feet tall and weighed over 20,000 pounds.
The oldest elephant ever recorded was a female Indian elephant named Chengalloor Dakshayani, which lived up to 88 years. The large elephant, popularly called the “grandmother of elephants,” lived in the temple for most of her life and was used in temple rituals. Despite their large sizes and a low number of daring predators, IUCN has recently tagged these mammals as endangered due to excessive poaching.
2. Humans – 150 Years
According to reports, humans have a lifespan between 120 to 150 years. Humans are considered the most evolve mammals but share a lot of similarities with other ape species. These primates share similar skeletal structures, can walk upright, lack tails, are hairy, and have large brains.
Several factors give humans almost double the lifestyle of other apes, such as meat consumption and medicine. Despite the large sizes of gorillas, they majorly stick to vegetables and fruits. Scientists believe the human lifespan can be further extended by creating mechanical organs, but these are still theories.
1. Bowhead Whales – 200 Years
The whale species are the largest mammals in the world, and they have a lifespan of 20 to 100 years. However, bowhead whales are the oldest, reaching up to 200. Whales are mammals because of their unique characteristics, such as the presence of mammary glands, giving birth to live young, and three middle ear bones. Whales are underwater mammoths.
The largest animal is the blue whale which can reach 10 feet long and weigh over 350,000 pounds. Though larger than the bowhead whale, blue whales do not often age more than 90 to 100 years. According to reports, bowhead whales live to double the lifespan of other whales because they have gene duplication, which slows down the division of cells in their body. However, it is believed that gene mutation harms male fertility.
|Rank||Animal||Max. Lifespan (Years)|
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- American Museum of Natural History, Available here: http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/horse/the-evolution-of-horses
- Guinness World Records, Available here: http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/70449-oldest-horse-ever
- Colin Barras, Available here: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21929313-800-gene-clues-may-explain-why-brandts-bat-lives-so-long/
- IUCN, Available here: https://www.iucn.org/news/species/202103/african-elephant-species-now-endangered-and-critically-endangered-iucn-red-list