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The San Francisco Lungfish is More Than 90 Years Ago


The San Francisco Lungfish is More Than 90 Years Ago

Credit: Unsplash

Commonly observed fish, whether in their natural habitat or kept in confinement, do not usually boast extended lifespans, with a majority of the frequently encountered species surviving for approximately ten years at most. However, certain aquatic beings, owing to their unique physiological composition or favorable environmental conditions, manage to defy the passage of time. One particular fish that has significantly withstood the test of time can be found at the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco.

The individual in question is a lungfish known as Methuselah, estimated by the aquarium staff to be over 90 years old. Methuselah was initially introduced to San Francisco in 1938 when she was about 7 years old. To put this into perspective, the Golden Gate Bridge had only been inaugurated approximately a year earlier. As a lungfish, Methuselah is a highly valuable specimen due to her remarkable ability to respire both underwater and on land. Lungfishes have long been considered as a potential evolutionary link between marine organisms and amphibians.

Methuselah appears to be well aware of her esteemed status, manifesting as one of the aquarium’s most demanding inhabitants. She exclusively indulges in figs, but only when they are in season, and adamantly refuses to share her living space with other aquatic creatures. When in a displeased mood, she has been known to play some mischievous pranks.

“At times, she would spontaneously begin floating with her tail elevated,” shared Allan Jan, Senior Biologist at the California Academy of Sciences and caretaker of Methuselah, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. “This would often prompt numerous concerned inquiries. ‘Is the fish ill? Is everything okay with the fish!’ … To the onlookers, it might appear distressing.”

However, not all interactions are negative; as a means to familiarize fish with aquarium life, handlers routinely engage them in physical contact. In the case of Jan and Methuselah, this entails regular sessions of belly rubs.

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