In 1938, a 4-foot-long, 40-pound lungfish arrived in San Francisco, California from her native Australia.
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The fish was named Methuselah. In the Bible, Methuselah was Noah’s grandfather and was said to have lived for 969 years. The name turned out to be prophetic, because the lungfish has lived at the California Academy of Sciences for the past 84 years and is still going strong!
In Australia, lungfish live in brackish water that can often dry up with little notice. Over the last 400 million years, the species has evolved to have an organ that acts as a primitive lung and allows them to breathe surface air. Many scientists believe that lungfish are the evolutionary link between fish and amphibians!
Methuselah has lived happily at the aquarium for several decades. Her keepers estimate that she’s about 90 years young, and they work hard to keep her well-fed and content. The former oldest living aquarium fish was another lungfish that lived at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois. That fish passed away in 2017 at age 95.
“By default, Methuselah is the oldest,”explained Methuselah’s keeper, senior biologist Allan Jan. Allan says Methuselah acts like “an underwater puppy” who loves belly rubs and being handfed her favorite treats.
Methuselah has a very mellow personality and eats a variety of fresh foods, including organic grapes, blackberries, and romaine lettuce. She also likes fish, clams, prawns, earthworms, and figs – but only if they’re fresh!
“She’s a little picky and only likes figs when they are fresh and in season,”said California Academy of Sciences spokesperson Jeanette Peach. “She won’t eat them when they’re frozen.”
In the eight decades since Methuselah came to the U.S., lungfish have been named a threatened species in Australia. We aren’t likely to get any more of these miraculous fish for our aquariums, so let’s appreciate this fascinating lady for as long as we can!
Share this interesting factoid with your friends so they can get to know Methuselah, too!
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