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Justice For Ming The Clam, The Once Oldest Living Animal

By Jack Coleman

In this week’s episode of Twisted History, we discussed popular sayings and their origins. It was in talking about the phrase “in a dog’s age,” meaning “in a really long time,” that Large stated that it would be more appropriately named if it was “in an Ocean Quahog’s age.” This is because the oldest living animal of all time, as awarded by The Guinness Book of World Records, was Ming the clam.

Giphy Images.

“The ocean quahog is a species of edible clam that live in the Atlantic and can live more than 400 years old. At 507 years of age, Ming the Clam broke the Guinness World Record as the oldest animal in the world.”

Once we heard his name, we were all entranced, and not solely because of our love for Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. So let’s take a look at Ming’s glorious 500+ year run, as well as his untimely and unfortunate demise.

@stoolpresidente If you know you know.  #marceltheshell ♬ original sound - A24

Ming the Clam was named so, because he was born during the Ming dynasty. The Icelandic crew that had discovered him later named him Hafrún, which is a woman's name that translates to “the mystery of the ocean.” Thus, Ming’s gender identity is unknown, as its reproductive state was recorded as “spent.” –via Wikipedia

Initially discovered off the coast of Iceland in 2006, researchers sought to properly date the specimen, and, in doing so, led to Ming’s unjust death. 

“The process involved counting the annual growth bands on the cross-sectional surface of the hinge region of the shell.” 

Basically, these stupid researchers couldn’t leave old Ming alone and when they went to freeze it, our beloved ocean quahog met its end. 

If killing Ming wasn’t enough, researchers in 2013, discovered that its original age of 405 years old, was not correctly dated. In comparison to banded patterns on other shells alive at the same time, Ming was found to actually be 507 years old!

Clearly, we at Twisted History want justice for our ocean pal, and you should too! If you haven’t checked out the pod in “a Ming the Clam’s age,” definitely give “The Twisted History of Popular Sayings” a listen.