Ming was born in the 16th century. This little clam was alive when the Statue of David was created, the Mona Lisa had just been painted, and Spain’s swinging dick was about to slap Mexico.
But that long and glorious life ended abruptly when scientists opened up the clam in order to see how old it was.
Not knowing the long life of the mollusc, researchers at Bangor University opened its shell for analysis, killing Ming in the process.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is often quoted saying “we’re all born scientists” and then he’ll go on to talk about how kids dig in the dirt and poke at worms. This is a pretty good example of humans poking at marine life like kids in a sandbox.
Hopefully Mr. Clam didn’t die without a reason though, as scientists hope to find a way to unlock the mystery of long life.
A few years ago, charity Help the Aged, gave the marine biologists from Bangor University £40,000 to investigate why this animal lives so long.
The charity hopes the university will be able to help unlock the secret to human longevity, or at least make old age a little more palatable.
‘If, in Arctica islandica, evolution has created a model of successful resistance to the damage of ageing, it is possible that an investigation of the tissues of these real life Methuselahs might help us to understand the processes of ageing,’ said researchers Chris Richardson.
Maybe in 150 years from now we’ll all be toasting to Ming the Clam.