Oldest people

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Margaret Ann Neve (1792–1903), the first known woman to live to be 110 years old

Documentation and research on the oldest people and their longevity help determine the maximum human lifespan and at the same time can work out new information about possible genetic and environmental causes of aging . What in the genes and in the life of the centenarians (Engl., Or even more the hundred-year-olds super centenarians ) has slowed aging could, the hope of one day as old-retardant are used measures for all people and developed.

The oldest person whose life data are documented and recognized by the relevant scientific institutions is the French Jeanne Calment , who lived to be 122 years and 164 days. She lived from February 21, 1875 to August 4, 1997.

The basic scientific research of aging is a branch of gerontology with the aim of measuring the extreme limits of human life and body, understanding them and one day being able to push them beyond the previous level. In doing so, comparisons are made with other living things such as mice and flies.


Ann Pouder (April 8, 1807 - July 10, 1917) on her 110th birthday

From the earliest times there are reports of people who are said to have reached a particularly old age. The biblical Methuselah (969 years, Gen 5,21-27  EU ), whose name is still used today as a synonym for a very old person, has achieved particular fame . In most cases, the ages could not be proven due to the lack of reliable sources such as birth and death certificates . In addition, the years were counted twice in various areas up until the early 20th century (summer and winter separately), including the rural areas of Tsarist Russia , whereby the changeover for illiterate people could lead to the person in question simply continuing to count more slowly in the later common counting method , retrospectively got confused with the year of the changeover of his private census and did not exactly know his real age himself. The uncertainties slowly changed with the advancing development of the civil status system, whereby birth certificates were already available in many countries in the late 19th century. This made the search easier and reduced the chances for fraudsters and impostors, who until recently had been caught in the Guinness Book of Records with its “oldest man” category , which is prestigious among the general public .

The first person who has demonstrably reached the limit of 110 years is the Dutchman Geert Adriaans Boomgaard . He was born on September 21, 1788 in Groningen and died there on February 3, 1899. The first woman who was proven to be 110 years old is the Englishwoman Margaret Ann Neve , who on May 18, 1792 on the Channel Island of Guernsey as Margaret Ann Harvey was born and died on April 4, 1903 (110 years, 321 days). Delina Filkins (May 4, 1815 - December 4, 1928) of New York first exceeded 113 years and held the age record for more than 50 years.

The oldest person reliably documented today is Jeanne Calment (February 21, 1875 - August 4, 1997). The French woman was born in the city of Arles in Provence . As a child she met Vincent van Gogh . Its 122 years and 164 days represent the longest unequivocally documented lifespan. The male age record holder accepted by the Guinness Book of Records is Jiroemon Kimura (April 19, 1897 - June 12, 2013), who reached the age of 116 years and 54 days . However, a detailed scientific study of its age is still pending.

About 2,000 people over the age of 100 have been reliably attested in history. This is undoubtedly only a fraction of those who actually lived, since the lifespan of the majority of these people has not been recorded and (reliably) documented. At the end of the 2000s, the research results of independent researchers were compiled in an international project of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock and published in 2010 in the monograph Supercentenarians .

Evaluation of statistical abnormalities

Older age of women

Hand of an elderly woman

In almost all partial evaluations, the oldest women reach a slightly older age than the oldest men . This statistically significant difference is about three years. The world record holder Jeanne Calment was even more than six years older than the oldest man, Jiroemon Kimura . There are different theoretical explanations for this advantage for women. The higher maximum life span of women is often explained with the same theories as their higher average life expectancy . One group of theories regards the advantage of women as something that is fateful and natural: the male hormone balance or other specifically male body features would lead to a somewhat faster wear and tear of the body. Another group of theories sees the difference more as a result of gender-related roles: men are more often employed in wars, hazardous work , physically damaging activities, they consult a doctor less often when symptoms of illness are present, they smoke more and drink more alcohol, etc. In all mammal species, for For example, in laboratory mice, the females live longer on average than the males. There are different explanations for this: Males have a larger body, and in each mammal species the smaller specimens live longer on average than the large ones: Small dog breeds can reach 16 years, while large dogs usually die after nine years. Small people have a longer life expectancy than large people. However, if the smaller body size is not genetic but results from poor nutrition, the rule is reversed: then taller people have a higher life expectancy. The male sex hormone testosterone is said to have a life-shortening effect: on average, eunuchs live longer than non-neutered men, but they tend to be overweight, which shortens life again. In general, anabolic (metabolism-stimulating) hormones such as growth hormones and the male sex hormones have a life-shortening effect, perhaps by leading to increased oxidative stress. Another explanation for the longer lifespan of female mammals and human women is that during cyclical menstrual bleeding, pollutants, heavy metals and oxidative iron are flushed out of the body. Another explanation is that women are better protected against hereditary diseases and premature death because of their double X chromosome.

Hardly any age record from the "Third World"

Almost all the age record holders come from the comparatively rich countries of the north, from Europe, Japan, North America, but there from all ethnic groups. The reason why there are no corresponding reports from the “ Third World ”, in which the far greater part of the world population lives, is seen, among other things, that because of poor medical care, diseases, lack of nutrition, poor education, etc., people from poorer countries have a have less chance of surviving the first hundred years and then fewer people are left who can exhaust their maximum lifespan. Another reason is considered that the birth registration in the said countries was rather patchy, especially in the 19th century. Thus, only the statistics could be biased, which is often the case with such studies. In addition, in many countries in the 19th century, birth registration did not yet meet the strict conditions that are required today for exact individual proof of age for the very old and very old.

Influence of genes

Since the occurrence of the case of Jeanne Calment, scientists have seen evidence of how the non-occurrence of serious illnesses over the entire life, that longevity or slowed aging can be genetically influenced. Many centenarians know of an unusually large number of relatives who have also reached a very old age. Alone, these “ Methuselah genes ” do not appear to be restricted to any particular population or group of populations and are believed to be found throughout humanity. This is supported by the fact that among the "supercentenarians" people from the most diverse races, such as Europeans, Asians (Japanese) and also Americans of African descent are equally represented.

Search for the island of youth

The search for an island of youth has occupied mankind since the beginning of its written tradition ( Gilgamesh ). Ponce de León sought the land of youth in Florida in vain, and in the 20th century James Hilton wrote about Shangri-La . Age demographics have not yet found this country. It would have to be a country that provides the majority of all “supercentenarians” and leaves the rest of the world only a small fraction of the records. The documented age records, however, are spread around the globe without giving particular preference to a single area. There are certain indications that there are noticeably many centenarians in the province of Nuoro , Sardinia , and their age can also be documented, as is the case in Okinawa and Kyotango , Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. There are also a number of legendary and mostly very remote regions and ethnic groups whose age records are reported ( Abkhazians , Hunzukuc ). However, there is insufficient evidence before either civil status is more advanced or medical methods for accurate, objective age determination have been developed. Unproven regional anomalies may be discovered and an island of youth could be identified.

The oldest people

The following table chronologically lists the people from the first supercentenarian (110 years) who, according to the current state of research, had reached the highest verified age of a person for the period until their successor became older than them.

Life data
Age reached (= days)
gender country Age record from - to Record duration in years and days
Geert Boomgaard
September 21, 1788 - February 3, 1899
110 years and 135 days (40,311)
man NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands September 21, 1898 - September 30, 1902 04 years and 9 days
Margaret Ann Neve
May 18, 1792 - April 4, 1903
110 years and 321 days (40,496)
woman United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom October 1, 1902 - August 18, 1925 22 years and 321 days
Louisa Thiers
October 2, 1814 - February 17, 1926
111 years and 138 days (40,680)
woman United StatesUnited States United States August 19, 1925 - September 19, 1926 01 year and 31 days
Delina Filkins
May 4, 1815 - December 4, 1928
113 years and 214 days (41,487)
woman United StatesUnited States United States September 20, 1926 - November 14, 1980 54 years and 55 days
Fannie Thomas
April 14, 1867 - January 22, 1981
113 years and 283 days (41,556)
woman United StatesUnited States United States November 15, 1980 - May 13, 1985 04 years and 179 days
Augusta Holtz
August 3, 1871 - October 21, 1986
115 years and 79 days (42,082)
woman GermanyGermany Germany United States
United StatesUnited States 
May 14, 1985 - May 11, 1990 04 years and 362 days
Jeanne Calment
February 21, 1875 - August 4, 1997
122 years and 164 days (44,724)
woman FranceFrance France May 12, 1990 - 30 years and 107 days

To be among the 100 oldest people in history whose age has been proven, the minimum age is currently 114 years and 148 days. This list of the oldest people is currently headed by Jeanne Calment. For the sex-separated listings, see the list of the oldest men and the list of the oldest women . The oldest living person in the world is the Japanese Kane Tanaka (born January 2, 1903) at the age of 117 years and 238 days .

More age records

  • Both the US American Mary P. Romero Zielke Cota (July 5, 1870 - July 22, 1982) and her daughter Rosabell Zielke Champion Fenstermaker (November 4, 1893 - October 14, 2005) celebrated their 111th birthday. Three other children of Cota also reached a very old age: Edna Baker died at 99, Edith Kaesler was 100 and Marjorie Nast was 102. The most famous case in Germany, in which at least one descendant of a 110-year-old parent also exceeded 100, is likely to be the case of Johanne Wilks (February 8, 1893 - June 23, 2003) and their three daughters. Ida Renken was 102 years old (March 22, 1914 - July 20, 2016). Her older sister Anna died at the age of 90, her younger sister Dora was 95 years old in March 2015.
  • So far, only two siblings have been registered who have celebrated their 110th birthday: Katharine Hardman Davenport (March 31, 1883 - September 29, 1993) and Nelle Hardman Eby (May 17, 1881 - January 13, 1993) from Parsons, Kansas. The oldest twins, the Japanese sisters Kin Narita (August 1, 1892 - January 23, 2000) and Gin Kanie (August 1, 1892 - February 28, 2001), lived to be 107 and 108 years old.
  • The American Herbert Fisher (June 10, 1905 - February 27, 2011) and his wife Zelmyra Fisher (December 10, 1907 - February 20, 2013) were married on May 13, 1924. They were married for 86 years and 290 days, holding the record for the longest marriage. Record holders in Germany are Michael Nikolaus (January 7, 1901 - January 29, 2007) and Katharina Nikolaus (1907 - December 19, 2005), who married on December 26, 1924 and their marriage therefore lasted almost 81 years.
  • Harley D. Utz (July 3, 1898 - November 12, 2001) and Sylvia Booker Utz (March 9, 1899 - October 5, 2009) from the USA hold the record for the highest total age of two married couples (213 years and 342 days). The Austrian couple Leopold Vietoris (June 4, 1891 - April 9, 2002) and Maria Josefa Vincentia Vietoris, née Riccabona von Reichenfels (July 18, 1901 - March 24, 2002) hold the German record with a total of 211 years and 193 days Language area.
  • Violet Brown's first son , Harland Fairweather (April 15, 1920 - April 19, 2017) was 97 years old and probably the oldest person with a living parent. His mother survived him by a few months.

Unsubstantiated age claims, age exaggerations and fraudulent cases

In the course of time there have always been people who pretended to be or thought they were significantly older than they actually were. Some thought they were 125, 150 or even over 200 years old.

  • The British Thomas Parr (allegedly 1483–1635), called "Old Parr", allegedly died at the age of 152 and was one of the attractions of London in the last year of his life (probably no more than his 70th) . He is in the Poets' Corner in London Westminster Abbey buried, an honor that he instructed the impressed I. Karl was bestowed. Another British case is the soldier William Hiseland (1620–1733).
  • The French Marie Piou is said to have died in 1838 at the age of 158.
  • In the German-speaking area, too, some cases of exaggerated, not verifiable age information were known, including Martin Kaschke (1610–1727), Johann Chiossich (1703–1820), Anton Adner (1705–1822), Joseph Brunner (1706–1827) and Johann Heinrich Behrens (1735-1844). In the case of the penultimate, the true age of “only” 88 years instead of the claimed 120 could now be determined. 1852 should in Heidelberg Jos. Fine to have died at the age of 115. Therese Fiedler von Hülsenstein from Hamburg, lady-in-waiting in Austria, is said to have died in 1876 at the age of 119; the astonished press reported about it worldwide.
  • The highest age of the 20th century was published in 1933 by Time , which reported that the previously deceased Chinese herbalist and professor Li Ching-yun , who said he was born in 1736, had reached the age of 197, but then named another source, who stated that the Chinese government had already congratulated him on his 150th birthday in 1827, making him 256 years old. He is said to have survived 23 wives and was just married to his twenty-fourth.
  • The Ottoman age myth Zaro Ağa , who died in 1934, also claimed an age beyond 150 years and thus gained local fame.
  • In 1956 the Colombian government dedicated two stamps (Michel no. 796–797) to Javier Pereira (1789 - March 30, 1958 ). He is then quoted as saying “Don't worry, drink a lot of coffee, smoke a good cigar!”. He is said to have been 167 years old at the time. The information was based only on the statements of a dentist who had determined this age when looking at Pereira's teeth. In the same year he was examined by doctors in New York with the result that he could very well be more than 150 years old.
  • The shepherd Shirali Muslimov (March 26 / May 19, 1805 - September 2 or 4, 1973), who came from the Azerbaijani town of Barzavu , also claimed the title of oldest human being. He is said to have married at the age of 136, later fathered a daughter and only differed at the age of 168. His birth certificate from 1805 was conclusive evidence.
  • The Guinness Book of Records listed the American Charlie Smith as the oldest person on earth in 1979/1980. In October 1979, 137 years old and as a child, he claimed to have been shipped from West Africa to the USA on a slave transport in 1854. In fact, social security officials believed they had found a certificate from 1854 that confirmed this information. In 1980, however, a marriage certificate turned up which refuted the life data - in reality Smith was "only" 104 years old.
  • The Guinness Book of Records assumed the age of the Japanese Shigechiyo Izumi , who is said to be born on June 29, 1865 and died on February 21, 1986 , after the error with Charlie Smith was uncovered . Shortly after his death, however, doubts about these data increased. It is possible that the date of birth was confused with that of his brother of the same name, who died as a child, and Izumi himself was not born until 1880. Since 2011, the Guinness Book of Records has ignored Izumi's claim of age.
  • The Nepalese Sri Bir Narayan Choudhary is said to have died in 1998 at the age of 141. His birth in 1856 was reportedly verified by the Nepalese Ministry of Archeology. His story was spread via a video on the YouTube platform .

Even in recent times, numerous people (or their relatives) have been claiming to have reached an unusually old age without this information being able to be verified by gerontologists. In all cases, it is not possible to present any valid evidence such as original birth certificates or other documents from the first 20 years of life, which are, however, necessary in order to provide proof of the person's identity and age. The more detailed circumstances often give rise to skepticism, for example if the persons concerned or their families go public relatively late, although they could have been the oldest person for several years due to their age. Gerontologist Robert D. Young of the Gerontology Research Group stated in 2016 that, according to his experience, "claims of age over 120 years are 100 percent wrong".

  • Benito Martínez Abrogan (June 19, 1880 - October 11, 2006) is said to have reached the age of 126 years. The Cuban government, however, gives his age at 119 years.
  • Turinah Masih Sehat, an Indonesian allegedly born in 1853 , made headlines in 2010 when she was 157. According to her own statements, she claims to have destroyed all her personal documents in order not to be associated with a “communist attempted coup” in 1965 .
  • The Cuban woman Juana Bautista de la Candelaria Rodriguez (d. December 24, 2012) was able to show identification documents according to which she was born on February 2, 1885. But even a look at the ID card shows a 1913 that was painted over with 1885, and therefore a fraudulent case.
  • The Chinese Luo Meizhen was allegedly born on July 9, 1885 and allegedly died in June 2013 at the age of 127. She only got her son at the age of 61, which is why there are doubts about her claim of age.
  • The Brazilians Maria Gonçalves dos Santos (June 24, 1890 - December 15, 2016) and José Aguinelo dos Santos (July 7, 1888 - December 20, 2017) are also said to have been more than 125 years old.
  • According to the authorities there , the Indonesian Mbah Gotho died in April 2017 at the age of 146. However, his life data could not be verified.

See also


  • V. Boehlau (Ed.): Age and longevity. Schattauer, Stuttgart 1975.
  • Hans Franke: Theories of Longevity. In: Acta Gerontologica. 9, 1979, p. 171 ff.
  • Hans Franke: On the trail of longevity. Schattauer, Stuttgart 1985.
  • Hans Franke: very old and very old. Causes and Problems of Old Age. Springer-Verlag, Berlin / Heidelberg etc. 1987 (= Understandable Science. Volume 118), ISBN 3-540-18260-8 .
  • Ursula Lehr , Reinhard Schmitz-Scherzer : Psychosocial Correlates of Longevity. In: Acta Gerontologica. 4, 1974, pp. 261-268.
  • Heiner Maier, Jutta Gampe, Bernard Jeune, Jean-Marie Robine, James W. Vaupel (Eds.): Supercentenarians. Springer-Verlag, Berlin / Heidelberg 2010, ISBN 978-3-642-11519-6 . (online at: demogr.mpg.de )
  • Roy L. Walford: Life Over 100 . Piper, Munich 1983, ISBN 3-492-02841-1 . (German edition of Maximum life span . In the meantime no longer completely the current status, but still the most understandable written scientifically founded introduction to the topic)
  • Harald Wenzel-Orf: At one hundred I was still young. The oldest Germans . 2nd Edition. Econ, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-430-19587-X . (Author's page on the book) ( Memento from October 22, 2013 in the Internet Archive )

Web links

Commons : Old people  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Jean-Marie Robine and Michel Allard: Jeanne Calment: Validation of the Duration of Her Life. In: Bernard Jeune, James W. Vaupel : Validation of Exceptional Longevity , Odense Monographs on Population Aging 6, Odense University Press, 1999, ISBN 8778384664
  2. Shino Nemoto, Toren Finkel: The miracle of those over 120 years of age ( Memento from February 23, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) in Spectrum of Science , November 2004, p. 70 ff.
  3. ^ Priaulx Library
  4. Saying goodbye to Kimura - the oldest man who ever lived at guinnessworldrecords.com
  5. Heiner Maier, Jutta Gampe, Bernard Jeune, Jean-Marie Robine, James W. Vaupel: Supercentenarians . Springer, 2010, doi : 10.1007 / 978-3-642-11520-2 .
  6. ^ Letter to the Editor of the GRG Supercentenarian Website: The American Paradox, February 17, 2003.
  7. Jäh ins Grab in Der Spiegel 10/1995, p. 228
  8. ^ EA Kral: Profiles: Mary P. Romero Zielke Cota and Rosabell Zielke Champion Fenstermaker. World's first mother-child supercentenarians had California and Nebraska roots ( Memento of September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ); 2006 Nebraska State Education Association report.
  9. Kreiszeitung Wesermarsch - Ida Renken obituary
  10. "Gardening kept me young" Ida Renken celebrates 100th birthday - mother was 110 years old. NWZ online March 24, 2014
  11. Congratulations Ida Renken family advertisements Kreiszeitung Wesermarsch March 21, 2015
  12. KATHARINE H. DAVENPORT, 110; ONE OF STATE'S OLDEST RESIDENTS ( Memento from January 25, 2013 in the web archive archive.today )
  13. BBC News: Japan's oldest twin dies ; Message dated February 28, 2001.
  14. Guinness Book of Records, "Longest Marriage" category
  15. Guinness World Record holder dies ( Memento from July 14, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  16. ^ Siegbert Bruss: oldest married couple in the world ; Transylvanian Newspaper, July 5th, 2005. Transylvanian Newspaper: At 105 years old, the world's oldest Transylvanian Saxon ; News from January 27, 2006, published on January 31, 2006.
  17. Oldest Person In Ohio Dies At 110 | NBC 4i ( August 7, 2011 memento on the Internet Archive )
  18. World's oldest son with living parent dies at 97 - Amazing mother bats on at 117 not out. jamaica-gleaner.com, April 20, 2017, accessed May 4, 2017.
  19. Listing of Incomplete, Exaggerated, or Fraudulent Cases at Gerontology Research Group
  20. ^ Meyer's Large Conversational Lexicon . 6th edition. Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1909 ( zeno.org [accessed on October 23, 2019] lexicon entry "Age").
  21. William Hiseland: The Super Centenarian Soldier , thedailybeagle.net , November 23, 2013, accessed on 29 March 2016
  22. ^ Meyer's Large Conversational Lexicon . 6th edition. Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1909 ( zeno.org [accessed on October 23, 2019] lexicon entry "Age").
  23. But not the oldest man in the world in Mainpost
  24. Pierer's Universal Lexicon of the Past and Present . 4th edition. Verlagbuchhandlung von HA Pierer , Altenburg 1865 ( zeno.org [accessed on October 23, 2019] lexicon entry "Lifespan").
  25. Otto Zöckler's doctrine of the origins of man (page 256)
  26. Otago Witness of October 21, 1876, page 5
  27. Dordrechtsche Courant (PDF; 1.8 MB) of July 29, 1876, page 1
  28. With this age it should be noted that it is probably a mythological number. The number eight has a special position as a cosmic number in Chinese numerology (see also eight trigrams ). The number 256 is made up of 8 × 32 or 8 × 8 × 4.
  29. China: Tortoise-Pigeon-Dog . In: Time . May 15, 1933.
  30. Azerbaijan's Legendary Centenarian Shirali Muslimov
  31. movie recording of Shirali Muslimov
  32. 'Oldest' Man Gets Recount in New York Times, March 21, 1979
  33. Charlie Smith, Ex-Slave, Is Dead; Believed Oldest American at 137 in the New York Times on October 7, 1979
  34. Japanese expert debunks idea of ​​'village of 100-year-olds' from April 6, 1987 / Asahi News Service
  35. ^ Brian Beker: The Oldest Person Who Ever Lived. January 14, 2013, accessed September 1, 2016 .
  36. ^ 145-year-old Indonesian man's age doubted by expert
  37. Benito Martínez Abrogan
  38. Census records 157-year-old woman at ABC News June 8, 2010.
  39. Juana Candelaria, la mujer más longeva de #Cuba tenía al morir 127 años
  40. Celebration of the alleged 127th birthday from 0:15 min
  41. China's Luo Meizhen, World's Oldest Woman, Dies At 127; Guinness Has Yet To Verify Record , medicaldaily.com
  42. Chinese celebrates her allegedly 127th birthday , bild.de , September 6, 2012
  43. Morre idosa de 126 anos que pode ser mulher que mais viveu no mundo
  44. Morre em Bauru, aos 129 anos, homem que poderia ser o mais velho do mundo