By HAVEN DALEY – Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Meet Methuselah, the fish that likes to eat fresh figs, rub its belly, and is believed to be the oldest living aquarium fish in the world.
In the Bible, Methuselah was Noah’s grandfather and is said to have lived to be 969 years old. Methuselah the fish isn’t that old, but biologists from the California Academy of Sciences believe it’s around 90 years old, with no known living peers.
Methuselah is a 4-foot-long (1.2 meter) and 40-pound (18.1 kilogram) Australian lungfish that was brought to the San Francisco Museum in 1938 from Australia.
A primitive species with lungs and gills, the Australian lungfish is thought to be the evolutionary link between fish and amphibians.
No stranger to publicity, Methuselah’s first appearance in the San Francisco Chronicle was in 1947: “These strange creatures – with green scales resembling fresh artichoke leaves – are known to scientists as a possible ‘missing link’ between terrestrial and aquatic animals.
Until a few years ago, Australia’s oldest lungfish was found at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. But this fish, named grandfather, died in 2017 at the age of 95.
“By default, Methuselah is the oldest,” said Allan Jan, the Academy’s senior biologist and fish keeper. Methuselah’s guardians believe the fish to be female, though it’s difficult to determine the sex of the species without a risky blood draw. The Academy plans to send a small sample of its fin to Australian researchers, who will try to confirm the sex and determine the exact age of the fish.