If a Clam Can Live to 500, Why Can’t We? | The Atlantic

The Atlantic surf clam, long studied at MBL. Credit: K.D. Wyman, iNaturalist

Note: Steven Austad has conducted research at MBL and participates in the annual Biology of Aging seminar at MBL.

One day, out of the blue, I received a telephone call from two marine biologists in Wales. As I recall, they said something like “Hello there, Dr. Austad. We are marine biologists who study clams that live a very long time. Would you like to collaborate with us to investigate how they do it?”

As a biologist of aging who is perhaps best known for making a wager that the first 150-year-old person is already alive, I get a fair number of crank calls and emails from people who want to live forever—or already know how to live forever and just want my help in spreading the word.  Being polite in this case, I recall my answer was something like “Possibly. What do you mean by ‘a very long time’?”

“Centuries.”

I held the telephone away from my ear. It was a transatlantic call. Maybe I had misheard. “Sorry, I thought you said ‘centuries.’”

“Yes, that’s right—centuries.”

A few months later, two researchers from Bangor University sat in my office, telling me about the longevity of bivalves—animals with hinged shells (valves), including clams, oysters, scallops, and mussels. I learned that the researchers could determine the precise age—to the year—of any individual clam. Read rest of the article

Source: If a Clam Can Live to 500, Why Can’t We? | The Atlantic