10 Of The Oldest Living Things On Earth

Written by Kristen Holder
Updated: May 4, 2023
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It’s an inevitable part of life that living things must die, but not all organisms die at the same rate. Some live for seconds, while others live for tens of thousands of years. What are 10 of the oldest living things on earth?

10 Of The Oldest Living Things On Earth

Oldest Living What?AgeOrganism TypeNameLocation
Wild Bird70 Years OldLaysan AlbatrossWisdomMidway Atoll
Land Animal190 Years OldSeychelles Giant TortoiseJonathanIsland of St. Helena
Germinated Seed2000 Years OldJudean Date PalmMethuselahKeturah, Israel
Planted Tree2300 Years OldSacred Fig TreeSri Maha BodhiyaAnuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Shrub3000 Years OldYaretaMultiple Unnamed SpecimensPuna Grasslands, Andes
Coral4300 Years OldBlack CoralLeiopathes glaberrimaNorth Atlantic, Hawaii, and the Mediterranean Sea
Tree4854 Years OldGreat Basin Bristlecone PineMethuselahCalifornia
Sponge15,000 Years OldGlass SpongeAnoxycalyx joubiniAntarctic Ocean
Seagrass200,000 Years OldSeagrassPosidonia oceanicaSpain
Oldest Living ThingImmortalHydraMany IndividualsFreshwater Sources

10. Oldest Living Wild Bird: 70 Years Old

Wisdom the Albatross

Wisdom, the Laysan albatross, is one of the 10 oldest things on earth.

©John Klavitter/U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service / public domain – License

The oldest living wild bird is a Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) named Wisdom. This bird visits the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge every breeding season and has traveled over 3 million miles since observation began. She was banded in 1956, and she probably hatched in 1951.

9. Oldest Living Land Animal: 190 Years Old

Jonathan giant tortoise at Plantation House Island of St Helena

Jonathan is a Seychelles giant tortoise and likely hatched around 1832.


Jonathan is a Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea hololissa) with an estimated age of around 190 years old. He lives on St. Helena, a volcanic island in the southern Atlantic Ocean. His keepers report that he enjoys eating apples, bananas, cabbage, and carrots.

Jonathan was an adult when he arrived at his island home in 1882. This means that the tortoise was already at least 50 years old. Most people agree that he probably hatched around 1832.

8. Oldest Germinated Seed: 2000 Years Old

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Tree

Methuselah is a Judean date palm germinated from a 2000-year-old seed.


A Judean date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) seed was germinated by scientists after it remained dormant for about 2000 years. Named Methuselah, it resides in Keturah, Israel. Scientists cultivated the 2000-year-old seed and now have a reproductively viable.

The seed sprouted in 2005, and by 2011, the tree flowered. Methuselah is currently around 11 feet in height.

Methuselah is male, and it periodically produces pollen. This pollen produced dates with a resurrected female Judean date palm.

7. Oldest Planted Tree on Earth: 2300 Years Old

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi - The Oldest Tree Planted by Humans.

The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is 2,300 years old.

©Honza Hruby/Shutterstock.com

At 2300 years old, this tree was grown from a cutting taken from the sacred fig tree (Ficus religiosa) that Siddhartha Gautama sat under when he experienced enlightenment and became Buddha. This resultant fig tree, or bodhi tree, has been growing for thousands of years in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. This ancient and religiously significant tree goes by the name Sri Maha Bodhiya.

6. Oldest Living Shrub: 3000 Years Old

Closeup of Yareta plant

The Yareta or Llareta is a 3,000-year-old plant. It’s native to South America.


The oldest shrub on the planet is Yareta (Azorella compacta), around 3000 years old. It grows in a specific high-altitude Andes environment called the Puna grasslands in Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Bolivia. Several individual yaretas growing are at least a few thousand years old.

It’s an evergreen shrub with dense leaves that trap moisture and block the sun. Yaretas grow close to the ground. It grows a little over half an inch per year, yet the oldest specimens are around 20 feet in circumference.

5. Oldest Living Coral on Earth: 4300 Years Old

Leiopathes glaberrima, a black coral species

The black coral species Leiopathes glaberrima is the oldest living coral on earth.

©NOAA Photo Library Wildlife / Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – License

The earth’s oldest coral is the black coral species called Leiopathes glaberrima. The species lives in the Mediterranean Sea, along the Hawaiian coast, and in the North Atlantic though its range may be wider. They’re deepwater corals that grow up to 1300 feet below sea level.

The base of a specimen in Hawaii was around 4300 years old as these corals grow less than three ten thousandths of an inch every year. Their dark and cold environment supports their slow growth and deterioration.

Black corals aren’t black, as their polyps are orange or white. They’re an important part of fragile ecosystems, including stalked barnacles, small fish, cushion stars, and spiny lobsters. These environments face destruction by deepwater fishing nets, and many old colonies no longer exist.

4. Oldest Living Tree: 4854 Years Old

The Bristlecone pines of the Great Basin National Park are the oldest trees in the world.

The White Mountains of California are home of the oldest living tree, a Great Basin Bristlecone.


The oldest living tree is a Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) named Methuselah in the White Mountains of California. It grows very slowly, somewhere between 9500 and 9800 feet in elevation though its exact location isn’t public knowledge. This is so tourists don’t destroy it.  

3. Oldest Living Sponge: 15,000 Years Old

Anoxycalyx joubini

Anoxycalyx joubini is the oldest living sponge.

©Paul K. Dayton, Stacy Kim, Shannon C. Jarrell, John S. Oliver, Kamille Hammerstrom, Jennifer L. Fisher, Kevin O’Connor, Julie S. Barber, Gordon Robilliard, James Barry, Andrew R. Thurber, Kathy Conlan / CC BY 4.0 – License

The oldest sponges are glass sponges of the species Anoxycalyx joubini located in parts of the Antarctic waters. They are believed to be up to 15,000 years old, which is caused by their extreme environment.

They exist between 350 to 6500 feet below the ocean’s surface, constantly under cold and pressure. This slows their growth rate, which in turn extends their lifespan. Sometimes their living conditions are so hostile that they don’t grow for a decade.

2. Oldest Seagrass Forest on Earth: 200,000 Years Old

Neptune seagrass Posidonia oceanica Neptune Grass

Posidonia oceanica is a meadow of seagrass near Spain that dates back around 200,000 years old.


A meadow of seagrass near Spain is approximately 200,000 years old. It’s a clonal species, meaning each piece of seagrass is genetically identical to its neighbor.

This specific seagrass, known as Posidonia oceanica, is an important ecosystem in its location in the Mediterranean Sea. Unfortunately, human activity destroys this seagrass and stalls its expansion.

1. Oldest Living Thing: Immortal

Animals that are blind – hydra

Hydras don’t die from aging and may be immortal.


Hydras are tiny invertebrates made of stem cells that do not die from aging, which means they may be immortal. They’re only a few millimeters in length, and they live in clean freshwater sources attached to underwater plants or other organic material.

They must be killed either by external forces or disease as their cells regenerate quickly enough to avoid permanent bodily damage. If a hydra is cut into pieces, each part will become a new hydra. It’s also possible to completely blend their bodies into a jumble of cells and watch a hydra reassemble itself.

Summary Of 10 Of The Oldest Living Things On Earth

RankOldest Living ThingAgeNameLocation
10Wild Bird70 Years OldLaysan AlbatrossMidway Atoll
9Land Animal190 Years OldSeychelles Giant TortoiseIsland of St. Helena
8Germinated Seed2000 Years OldJudean Date PalmKeturah, Israel
7Planted Tree2300 Years OldSacred Fig TreeAnuradhapura, Sri Lanka
6Shrub3000 Years OldYaretaPuna Grasslands, Andes
5Coral4300 Years OldBlack CoralNorth Atlantic, Hawaii, and the Mediterranean Sea
4Tree4854 Years OldGreat Basin Bristlecone PineCalifornia
3Sponge15,000 Years OldGlass SpongeAntarctic Ocean
2Seagrass200,000 Years OldSeagrassSpain
1Oldest Living ThingImmortalHydraFreshwater Sources

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Riderolga

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About the Author

Kristen Holder is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics related to history, travel, pets, and obscure scientific issues. Kristen has been writing professionally for 3 years, and she holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of California, Riverside, which she obtained in 2009. After living in California, Washington, and Arizona, she is now a permanent resident of Iowa. Kristen loves to dote on her 3 cats, and she spends her free time coming up with adventures that allow her to explore her new home.

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