Thursday, August 21, 2008

Habib Mian, RIP

As part of my research here, I've been looking into lifespan and learning that there is little international consensus. Apparently the longest unambiguously documented lifespan is that of Jeanne Calment of France (1875–1997), who died aged 122 and a half years of age. The next ten longest authenticated lives range from 116 years to 120 - five from the United States, three from Japan, one from Ecuador and the Canadian Marie-Louise Meilleur. Meilleur was 117 years old when she died in Ontario in 1998, then considered the oldest living person on the planet.

There are many claims to longer lives, but The Guinness World Records consider them unsubstantiated. Ma Pampo of the Dominican was said to have been 128 at the time of her death in 2003, but the documentation has been called into question.

Today it was announced that Habib Mian of India died Tuesday morning after a brief illness. He was reportedly 138 years old. Mian was recognized as the oldest living man in the Limca Book of World Records 2005 edition, but the Guinness Book of Records claim this cannot be verified. He is pictured above, on his last birthday.

The oldest living animal is a clam found less than a year ago in 80-metre-deep water off of Iceland. Researchers determined that the ocean quahog (Arctica islandica) was 405 years old, besting the previous record (by the same species) of 220. The oldest living thing is a Norway Spruce (Picea abies) tree in the mountains separating Norway and Sweden, thought to be 8 000 years old.

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