190-year-old is the oldest tortoise ever

At 190 years old, this Seychelles giant tortoise on the island of St. Helena is considered the oldest tortoise ever known. Credit: Government of St. Helena via YouTube

The oldest living land animal now has a new title—the oldest tortoise ever known. Nicknamed Jonathan, the Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea hololissa) is believed to have been born in 1832, which would make it 190 years old this year. It may be even older than that. Its age is based on a photo showing it to be fully mature—at least 50—when it arrived on the South Atlantic island of St. Helena in 1882, according to the British Museum.

The previous oldest chelonian (which includes turtles, tortoises and terrapins) was a radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata)—a gift from Captain Cook to the royal family of Tonga around 1777. It was believed to be at least 188 when it died in 1965.

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