Meet Methuselah, the fish who enjoys fresh figs, belly rubs and is said to be the world’s oldest living tank fish.
Methuselah was Noah’s grandfather in the Bible, and he lived to be 969 years old. Methuselah, the fish isn’t quite that old, but biologists at the California Academy of Sciences estimate it to be around 90 years old and has no living counterparts.
Methuselah is a 4-foot-long (1.2-meter) Australian lungfish that weighed 40 pounds (18.1 kilogrammes) that was transported to the San Francisco museum in 1938.
Australian lungfish, a primitive species with lungs and gills, are thought to constitute the evolutionary connection between fish and amphibians.
“These unusual critters — with green scales that look like fresh artichoke leaves — are recognised by experts as a possible’missing link’ between terrestrial and aquatic species,” the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in 1947 about Methuselah.
The previous oldest Australian lungfish was at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago until a few years ago. However, Granddad, the fish, died in 2017 at the age of 95.
“By default, Methuselah is the oldest,” said Allan Jan, the fish’s caretaker and senior biologist at the Academy. Methuselah’s keepers assume the fish is female, though determining the species’ sex without a dangerous blood draw is challenging. The Academy intends to send a small sample of her fin to Australian researchers, who will attempt to establish the sex and determine the fish’s exact age.
Jan describes Methuselah as having a “mellow” demeanour who enjoys having her back and tummy caressed.
“I tell my volunteers to assume she’s an underwater puppy, extremely placid and kind, but she’ll have unexpected bursts of excitement if she gets scared.” “However, for the most part, she’s just quiet,” Jan explained. Methuselah has developed a preference for figs in season.
“She’s a finicky eater who only eats figs when they’re in season and fresh.” Jeanette Peach, a spokesman for the California Academy of Sciences, stated, “She won’t eat them when they’re frozen.”
Jan stated that the Academy has two more Australian lungfish that are younger, both in their 40s or 50s.
As the Australian lungfish is now a vulnerable species that cannot be exported from Australian waters, Academy biologists think it’s unlikely they’ll be able to find a replacement once Methuselah dies.
“We just give her the best possible care we can provide and hope she flourishes,” Jan explained.