Scientific consensus says that Earth is around 4.5 million years old. While there aren’t living creatures on the planet that have survived that expanse of time, there are some pretty amazing animals that live longer than you might expect.
Disclaimer: This list is focusing solely on land animals (with one bird and a few reptiles). Otherwise, it would turn into a lengthy compendium of strange-looking sea creatures and tiny organisms that have been known to live hundreds of years. For this list, we’re sticking to the creatures above the sea.
Here’s a look at the longest living land animals on the planet.
Humans live to almost 80 years on average
A good place to start is with the most familiar land animals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average lifespan of humans (in the United States) is approximately 78.6 years. Humans aren’t the longest-living land animals on Earth, but they do tend to outlive a majority of their terrestrial companions.
In 2018, Russia’s Koku Istambulova was estimated (but unverified) to be the oldest living person on the planet at 128 years old. Also in 2018, Japan’s Masazo Nonaka was confirmed to be the oldest living man alive at 112 years old.
Land animals that live longer than 100 years
You’ve likely heard about the longevity of giant tortoises (those of the Galapagos variety in particular), but giant tortoises all over the globe have a tendency to live longer than 100 years.
In fact, the longest-living land animal alive today is Jonathan the Seychelles/Aldabra giant tortoise. He was declared to be at least 185 years old in 2017.
Other giant tortoises of note are Adwaita (an Aldabra tortoise that died in 2006 guessed, but not confirmed, to live to 255 years old) and Harriet (a giant Galapagos tortoise that also died in 2006, estimated to be 175 years old).
Not a giant, but a tortoise nonetheless, Tu'i Malila was believed to be gifted to the royal Tongan family by Captain James Cook. Tu'i Malila was confirmed by Guinness World Records to be at least 188 years old when she died in 1965.
Tuatara are rare, medium-sized lizards native to New Zealand. Tuatara lizards have an average lifespan of around 60 years, but they’re commonly believed to live beyond 100.
Henry the world-famous tuatara currently lives at the Southland Museum in New Zealand and is estimated to be older than 120 years old.
Land animals that live longer than 60 to 80 years
We’ll give the macaw parrot a pass and include it on the list even though it’s a bird. Macaw parrots can have an average lifespan of 60-80 years, and some (like Charlie the blue and yellow macaw) live beyond 100 years.
Unfortunately, the macaw is almost extinct in the wild, and many that live beyond 60 years do so in captivity.
Crocodiles and alligators are often referred to as living dinosaurs because, as far as we know, they really haven’t evolved much since prehistoric times.
While this doesn’t mean they’re immortal, it does mean they don’t have a lot of natural competition and often live longer than animals lower on the food chain. The average lifespan of many common wild crocodiles (like the Nile crocodile) ranges from 70 to 100 years.
With that in mind, there are a number of “famous” crocodiles that have lived almost twice as long.
Asian and African elephants
Lumbering, intelligent, and strong—elephants aren’t the longest living animals on the planet, but they are the largest. That said, elephants do live longer than most other land animals. African elephants live to around 70 years on average, and Asian elephants live to around 60 years.
The oldest living elephant ever, an Asian elephant named Lin Wang, was 86 years old.
Land animals that live longer than 30 to 50 years
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute puts the average American alligator’s lifespan at around 50 years in the wild. But, like their crocodile kinsfolk, the average lifespan of alligators is by no means the limit to their aging.
Muja, the world’s oldest living alligator, is believed to have survived World War 2 and is thought to be at least 83 years old.
Chimpanzees don’t live as long as their human relatives, but they do have long lifespans for animals that live in the wild. Chimpanzees have been known to live anywhere from 33 years to 45 years on average in the wild.
Different types of gorillas live different length lifespans, but most have an average age of anywhere from 30 to 40 years in the wild. And captive gorillas tend to live longer than their wild counterparts.