What scientists have recently discovered is that this huge spike of Carbon-14 got into the vertebrae of whale sharks. Those vertebrae actually have a ring build-up, sort of like trees do. However, scientists were never in any kind of full agreement on how long it takes those rings to form. Much like anyone’s guess as to when we’re going to get sports back, it could be six months, could be a year. Who’s to say?
Well, in this case, by locating where in the whale shark vertebrae that spike in Carbon-14 occurred, we can figure out with much better accuracy how long that whale shark has actually been alive. The trick is getting access to these vertebrae for study. Whale sharks are endangered, and it’d be kinda stupid to hunt one just to figure out how old it is. A couple of specimens that’d been dead for awhile were located in Pakistan and Taiwan, and scientists were able to use vertebrae from them to study. Based on the examination of their rings and using the Carbon-14 isotopes, they were able to posit that whale sharks can live to be 100 to 150 years old.
100 years ago was World War I — that would mean that there are whale sharks out there that lived through multiple major wars without atomic bombs. Makes you wonder what kinda shit Destiny the whale shark has seen.
Pixar“I smile to hide the pain.”