From long-lived pets to the oldest fragments of our planet, we explore Earth’s 4.55-billion-year history to celebrate record-breaking longevity in its many forms.

Dog 29 years 5 months

The greatest reliable age recorded for a dog is 29 years for an Australian cattle dog named Bluey, owned by Les Hall of Rochester, Victoria, Australia. Bluey was obtained as a puppy in 1910 and worked among cattle and sheep for nearly 20 years before being put to sleep on 14 Nov 1939.

Cat 38 years 3 days

Creme Puff was born on 3 Aug 1967 and lived until 6 Aug 2005 – an amazing 38 years! Creme Puff lived with her owner, Jake Perry, in Austin, Texas, USA.

Goldfish 43 years

A goldfish named Tish, owned by Hilda and Gordon Hand of Carlton Miniott, North Yorkshire, UK, lived for 43 years. Hilda’s son Peter won Tish at a fairground stall in 1956.

Olympic medallist 72 years 280 days

On 26 Jul 1920, at the Antwerp Olympics, Oscar Swahn (SWE, b. 20 Oct 1847) became the oldest Olympic medallist, aged 72 years 280 days. On 4 Jul 1912, Swahn had been in the victorious men’s 100 m running deer (double shots) shooting team at the Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden, aged 64 years 258 days. That win made him the oldest Olympic gold medallist. The 100 m running deer was a target shooting competition at the Olympics from 1908 to 1948.

Reigning monarch 91 years 11 days

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (UK) was born on 21 Apr 1926 and became the world’s oldest monarch on 23 Jan 2015, aged 88 years 277 days. As of 2 May 2017, she was 91 years 11 days old.

Message in a bottle 108 years 138 days

The oldest bottled message spent 108 years 138 days at sea after being released by the Marine Biological Association (UK) in the North Sea (52°4.8'N; 003°37'E) on 30 Nov 1906. The message was found at Germany’s Amrum island on 17 Apr 2015.

Person 122 years 164 days

Jeanne Louise Calment (FRA) was born on 21 Feb 1875 to Nicolas (1837–1931) and Marguerite (neé Gilles, 1838–1924). She died 122 years later at a nursing home in Arles, southern France, on 4 Aug 1997.

Zoo 265 years

The oldest continuously operating zoo is the Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Vienna, Austria. It was first opened to the public in 1779, although initially it had been created in 1752 as a crown menagerie.

Topiary garden c. 327 years

Levens Hall in Cumbria, UK, has topiary designs that were initially planted and trained in the 1690s. The shapes include “Chess Pieces”, the “Judge’s Wig” and the “Great Umbrellas”.

Amusement park 434 years

Bakken, located in Klampenborg, north of Copenhagen in Denmark, opened in 1583 and is the world’s oldest operating amusement park. It claims to have more than 150 attractions, including a wooden roller-coaster built in 1932.

Wrestling competition 557 years

The Kirkpinar wrestling festival has been held annually since 1460 near Edirne in Turkey. Participants coated in oil vie for the Golden Belt.

Existing parliament 1,087 years

The Icelandic Althing was founded in 930 ce. This body, which originally comprised 39 local chieftains at Thingvellir, was abolished in 1800 but restored by Denmark to a consultative status in 1843 and a legislative status in 1874.

Hotel 1,312 years

The Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan in Yamanashi, Japan, is a hot-spring hotel that has been operating since 705 ce.

Tree c. 5,200 years

A Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) known as Prometheus was cut down from Wheeler Peak in Nevada, USA, in 1963. Although 4,867 rings were counted in it, the tree was in a harsh environment that had slowed its growth. Its true age has been estimated at c. 5,200 years old.

Egyptian hieroglyphs c. 5,300 years

The oldest known examples of Egyptian hieroglyphs were unearthed in 1999 in Abydos, 300 mi (483 km) south of Cairo. Imprinted on clay seal impressions and ivory tags, they have been dated to between 3400 bce and 3200 bce.

Plant cultivated for drink 8,000 years

Grapes (Vitis vinifera) are among the oldest cultivated plants that are used primarily for drink. The earliest documented evidence proving that grapes were cultivated to make wine dates to 6000 bce in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq).

Plants cultivated for food 11,500 years

The first domesticated plants are the eight species of Neolithic founder crop. Domesticated by early Holocene farming communities in south-west Asia’s Fertile Crescent region, they date back to 9500 bce and consist of the flax plant, four species of pulse and three species of cereal.

Cave art 40,800 years

In 1903, prehistoric rock art was discovered in the El Castillo cave in Puente Viesgo in Cantabria, Spain. Alongside paintings of animals and handprints is one red disc that is at least 40,800 years old. Nearby is a hand stencil that dates back at least 37,300 years.

Ice core 740,000 years

The oldest continuous ice core covers 740,000 years of climate history. It is 3,139 m (10,298 ft) long, with a 10-cm (4-in) diameter. The core was drilled at Dome C in Antarctica by the 10-nation EPICA (European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica) and announced on 9 Jun 2004.

Stone tools 3.3 million years

Published in the journal Nature in 2015, compelling evidence has been presented of stone tools that date back as far as 3.3 million years. The stone flakes, cores and anvils were unearthed in 2011, near Lake Turkana in Kenya, by Sonia Harmand of Stony Brook University (USA) and her team.

Vomit 160 million years

On 12 Feb 2002, a team of palaeontologists led by Prof Peter Doyle (UK) announced their discovery of the fossilized vomit of an ichthyosaur, a large, fish-like marine reptile.

Dated dinosaur 240 million years

The existence of Nyasasaurus parringtoni was established from a partial skeleton in a deposit of fossils present within the Manda Beds near Tanzania’s Lake Nyasa. The skeleton is some 240 million years old and was around the size of a Labrador dog. N. parringtoni was formally described in Dec 2012.

Vertebrate 530 million years

The oldest documented vertebrate is Haikouichthys. Regarded as an early fish, it had a distinct head and tail, as well as gills and a dorsal fin.

Mountain range 3.6 billion years

The Barberton Greenstone Belt, or Makhonjwa Mountains, in South Africa is formed from rocks up to 3.6 billion years old. The mountains have a maximum altitude of around 1,800 m (5,905 ft) above sea level.

Fragment of Earth 4.374 billion years

Tiny, diamond-like crystals of zircon (ZrSiO4) from the Jack Hills in Western Australia are the oldest minerals so far dated on Earth. A 2014 study estimated their age to be 4.374 billion years (±6 million years). This means that these zircons were created “only” around 160 million years after Earth itself was formed.

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