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Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Scientists Reveal why the Bowhead Whale Lives up to 200 Years

Bowhead whale

Bowhead whales can live up to 200 years

Scientists say bowhead whales apparently hold the secret to aging well and living well into old age. This creature of the Arctic Ocean boasts a lifespan of 200 years.

A team of scientists revealed Monday they've mapped the genetic blueprint of the bowhead whale. The genome of these whales holds important clues and evidence about the massive sea creature's longevity and its strong immune system.

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Upon closer inspection, the genome of the whale had significant differences from other mammals when it comes to DNA repair and cell cycles and even cancer and aging processes that explain the creature's lifespan.

According to geneticist João Pedro de Magalhães, from the University of Liverpool, this marks the first time scientists have mapped the genome of a whale, making it the biggest animal to be ever sequenced.

Magalhães adds that identifying these maintenance and cell repair processes found in the whale can lead to new insights and information that can be applied to the improvement of human health and the preservation of human life.

Considered as one of Earth's largest creatures, the bowhead whale outlives any other mammal. They measure up to 60 feet and are the second heaviest whales on the planet next to the blue whale.

Bowheads are usually black in appearance while their unique massive lower jaw is white. They filter feed on massive amounts of krill or planktonic small shrimp.

Bowhead whales usually weigh around 50 to 100 tons when they reach adulthood and have 1,000 times more cells than humans, according to biologist Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen from the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources and also from the University of Copenhagen.

The whales apparently have a cellular system that responds like an anti-tumor alert protection that works more efficiently than those in humans.

Scientists also link the whale's sheer size to its genome and physiological adaptations. They believe the whale cells have a lower metabolic rate than other mammals. One gene responsible for body temperature regulation is also linked to metabolic processes in the whale's cells.

This study was published in the scientific journal, Cell Reports.

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