Which animal has the longest pregnancy?

22nd July 2009

Asked by: Kerry Bradshaw, Market Weighton

The 22-month gestation period of the African elephant is the longest among the land mammals. But this is far surpassed by the eel-like frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus) found off the coasts of South Africa and Chile, which Japanese scientists have shown to have a gestation period that may be as long as 42 months. This could be due to the intense cold of its deep-sea habitat slowing its metabolic processes to a crawl. Other deep-dwelling animals may have similarly extended gestation periods.