The 10 Oldest Living Mammals

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Updated: October 3, 2023
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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

Brandt bats have a maximum lifespan of about 41 years.

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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

animals with big noses: tapir

Adult tapirs can weigh over 700 pounds and have a maximum lifespan of 42 years.

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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 maximum lifespan of about 50 years.

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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

Grizzly Bear Roaring in Winter

Bears have a maximum lifespan of about 50 years.

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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

Western Black Rhinoceros

Rhinoceroses can live for up to 57 years.

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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

Horse smiling in field

Horses have a maximum lifespan of about 62 years.

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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

Animals that Sweat – chimpanzees

Apes have a maximum lifespan of about 84 years.

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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

elephant

Elephants have a maximum lifespan of 88 years.

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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

Human Omnivore

Humans have a maximum lifespan of 150 years.

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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

Bowhead whale

Bowhead whales live for over 200 years and have the most enormous mouth of any whale.

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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.

Summary

RankAnimalMax. Lifespan (Years)
1Bowhead Whale200
2Humans150
3Elephants88
4Apes84
5Horses62
6Rhinos57
7Bears50
8Monkeys50
9Tapirs42
10Bats41

Honorable Mentions: The 5 Oldest Humans on Record

Oldest Person on Record

Jeanne Calment was the oldest human documented, living for 122 years and 164 days.

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In case you are curious, we wanted to give a shout-out to those humans who have broken records for the longest lifespans in recorded history. We’ll stick with those who lived in the last couple of centuries, though the Bible does record the oldest man ever to live as being Methuselah, who was recorded as living 969 years! Our list, however, begins with a woman born in the last quarter of the 19th century.

1. Jeane Calment

This French woman, who was born on 21 February 1875 and died on 4 August 1997, lived 122 years and 164 days. She is the oldest documented human. She’s also the only known person to have ever lived past the age of 120.

2. Kane Tanaka

This Japanese woman made it awfully close to 120 years, living 119 years and 107 days. She was born on 2 January 1903 and passed just last year on 19 April 2022. Amazingly, she lived through paratyphoid fever in her mid-30s, pancreatic cancer in her mid-40s, and colorectal cancer at the age of 103.

3. Lucille Randon (Sister André)

Lucille Randon of Toulon, France passed just this year (2023) at the age of 118 years 340 days, born on 11 February 1904 and passing on 17 January 2023. She broke another record as the oldest confirmed survivor of the COVID-19 pandemic. A month before her 117th birthday, she tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, yet went on to live almost two more years.

4. Jiroemon Kimura

Considered the oldest man in history, this Japanese veteran of WWI was born on 19 April 1897 and passed on 12 June 2013, making his lifespan 116 years and 54 days.

5. Christian Mortensen

This Danish supercentenarian lived 115 years and 252 days, being born on 16 August 1882, and passing on 25 April 1998. He was an occasional smoker who refrained from eating meat or drinking alcohol.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Scott E Read/Shutterstock.com


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Sources
  1. American Museum of Natural History, Available here: http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/horse/the-evolution-of-horses
  2. Guinness World Records, Available here: http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/70449-oldest-horse-ever
  3. Colin Barras, Available here: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21929313-800-gene-clues-may-explain-why-brandts-bat-lives-so-long/
  4. IUCN, Available here: https://www.iucn.org/news/species/202103/african-elephant-species-now-endangered-and-critically-endangered-iucn-red-list