A man recently found a clam that may have been alive since 1809—the same year Abraham Lincoln was born. According to a Facebook post from the Gulf Marine Specimen Lab, staffer Blaine Parker found the clam on a recent walk on Alligator Point, a Gulf Coast beach in the state of Florida. The clam is an abnormally large—and old—ocean quahog, according to the lab. The organization dubbed it “Aber-Clam Lincoln,” because of its year of origin.
“These mollusks range from Newfoundland to North Carolina and are found within 2.8 to 4.3 inches in length, but ‘Aber-clam Lincoln’ is 6 inches, weighing 2.6 pounds,” writes the Gulf Marine Specimen Lab. “The ocean quahog can live to be over 200 years, reproducing by the age of six and commercially eaten at 20 years old.”
According to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, ocean quahogs are found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. They are typically found in depths between 8 and 400 meters. They often burrow in fine sand and are considered one of the longest-living, slowest-growing marine bivalves on the planet.
“[A quahog’s] age can be calculated by the number of layers on the shell, with each layer representing a year,” explains the Gulf Marine Specimen Lab. “Parker counted 214 layers on Aber-clam Lincoln’s shell.”
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While 214 years of age is impressive for a clam, it is far from the oldest ocean quahog ever found. According to the National Museum of Wales, the oldest quahog, dubbed “Ming,” because it dated back to the age of the Ming Dynasty, was estimated to be 507 years old. It was collected off the coast of Iceland in 2006—and died in the process. The Guinness Book of World Records recognized it as the oldest animal in the world.