A supercentenarian is a person who has reached the age of 110 years or more.Only about one in a thousand of those who reach 100 survive to age 110,and in turn only about one in fifteen of those who reach 110 reaches 114.
The term has been around since at least the 1970s,and the definition of age 110 or more has become accepted by demographers.Gradations among the 110-and-over population appear superfluous while their numbers remain extremely small.
History and myth
Claims of extreme age have persisted from the earliest times in history,and many mythologies tell of ancient ancestors living longer than any now documented,or elusive realms like Shambhala or Tir nan Og where prolonged or eternal life may be found.
Religious and mythic claims
Perhaps the most extreme in this area was the assertion by L. Ron Hubbard of the Church of Scientology that his spirit ("thetan") was 74,000,000,000,000 years old (although this delves into reincarnation).
In Taoism,the Great Jade Emperor was said to have lived thousands of millions of years.Several ancient Chinese emperors (before the first recorded dynasties) were said to have reigned tens of thousands of years.The modern extreme claimant Li Chung-yun died in 1933 and was alleged to be in his 250s and credited his youthful appearance to Taoist wisdom and healthy living.
In Sumerian mythology Dumuzi and Larak were said to have reigned on earth for tens of thousands of years.
The most extreme claim in the Bible is that for Methuselah at 969 years.
Nationalist and folkloric claims
Shirali Mislimov of Azerbaijan was alleged to be 168 years old when he died in 1973,the most extreme of a large number of claims that have come from the Caucasus region (the largest number from Abkhazia) that have never seen corroborating documentation for ages greater than 110.South America's Javier Pereira was claimed to be 169.
In centuries past,Thomas Parr (1483?-1635),Henry Jenkins (1501?-1670),and Thomas Carn (1381?-1588) were claimants from Britain,and there were others across Europe credited with similarly fanciful ages in past centuries.
Modern undocumented claims
The extreme ages claimed have subsided to within a decade or two of the documented record,but to this day assertions are made,documentation sought,and the age claimed either disproved or at least unsubstantiated to any serious standard.In this category rest Elizabeth Israel of Dominica,Maria do Carmo Geronimo of Brazil,Benito Martinez of Cuba,Moloko Temo of South Africa,Ozo Ezegwuja Nwaeze and Ladan Musa Igabi of Nigeria,and the Indian variously known as Habib Miyan and Rahim Khan,all of whom have featured in the press and none of whom have obtained scholarly validation.
The scientific standards and documented facts
Over a thousand supercentenarians have been documented in history,and this is doubtless a fraction of the number who have really lived,but the majority of recorded claims have lacked sufficient documentation to be validated.As those born after various countries and areas standardized birth registration attain supercentenarian age,the prospect of validation for a legitimate claim,and the accuracy of the number of validations,is slowly increasing.
The earliest supercentenarian substantially accepted by scholars is Geert Adriaans Boomgaard,who was born in Groningen in the Netherlands on September 21,1788 and died there on February 3,1899.
The oldest accepted supercentenarian in history is Jeanne Calment,who lived 122 years 164 days in her native city of Arles,France.
Of the over 1000 validated supercentenarians,
- Only about 65 lived to 114.
- Only about 25 reached 115.
- No more than 10 reached 116.
Oldest documented living persons,since 1991
(A chronological succession.Those whose claims were superseded are omitted)
- Jeanne Calment (February 21,1875-August 4,1997)
- Marie-Louise Meilleur (August 29,1880-April 16,1998)
- Sarah Knauss (September 24,1880-December 30,1999)
- Eva Morris (November 8,1885-November 2,2000)
- Marie Bremont (April 25,1886-June 6,2001)
- Maude Farris-Luse (January 21,1887-March 18,2002)
- Kamato Hongo (September 16,1887-October 31,2003) (documentation questioned)
- Mitoyo Kawate (May 15,1889-November 13,2003)
- Ramona Trinidad Iglesias-Jordan (September 1,1889-May 29,2004)
- Maria Esther Heredia Lercaro de Capovilla (September 14,1889-August 27,2006)
- Elizabeth Bolden (August 15,1890-December 11,2006)
- Emiliano Mercado del Toro (August 21,1891-January 24,2007)
- Emma Tillman (November 22,1892-January 28,2007)
- Yone Minagawa (January 4,1893-August 13,2007)
- Edna Parker (born April 20,1893)
Oldest living documented men since 1978
- Shigechiyo Izumi (June 29,1865-February 21,1986) (still accepted by Guinness but widely doubted by scholars)
- Joe Thomas (May 1,1875-December 1,1986)
- Herman Smith-Johannsen (June 15,1875-January 5,1987)
- Alphaeus Philemon Cole (July 12,1876-November 25,1988)
- John Evans (August 19,1877-June 10,1990)
- Henri Perignon (October 14,1879-June 18,1990)
- James W. Wiggins (October 15,1879-October 16,1991)
- Frederick L. Frazier (January 27,1880-June 14,1993)
- Christian Mortensen (August 16,1882-April 25,1998) Danish immigrant to USA,oldest man widely accepted by scholars
- Johnson Parks (October 15,1884-July 17,1998)
- Walter Richardson (November 7,1885-December 25,1998)
- Denzo Ishisaki (October 20,1886-April 29,1999)
- Antonio Urrea Hernandez (February 16,1888-November 15,1999)
- John Painter (September 20,1888-March 1,2001) [documentation is inconsistent]
- Sadayoshi Tanabe (October 20,1888-January 18,2000) is oldest if later date for Painter is correct
- Antonio Todde (January 22,1889-January 3,2002)
- Yukichi Chuganji (March 23,1889-September 28,2003)
- Joan Riudavets (December 15,1889-March 5,2004)
- Fred H. Hale Sr. (December 1,1890-November 19,2004)
- Emiliano Mercado del Toro (August 21,1891-January 24,2007) also oldest living person from December 11 2006
- Tomoji Tanabe (born September 18,1895)
Among the oldest ever
After Calment,Izumi,and Knauss ranks
- Lucy Hannah (July 16,1875-March 21,1993)
she is followed by Meilleur and Capovilla,then
- Tane Ikai (January 18,1879-July 12,1995)
The oldest now living,2008
- Edna (Scott) Parker (born April 20,1893) of Indiana
- Maria (de Jesus) dos Santos (born September 10,1893) of Portugal
Notably early and long-lived among supercentenarians
- Delina Filkins (1815-1928) of Herkimer County,New York
- Betsy (Russell) Baker (1842-1955) British immigrant to Nebraska
- Louis Epstein's The Oldest Human Beings List of validly-documented supercentenarians (by age and chronological) with list of oldest living listed persons since 1955 (for a time in the 1960s the oldest living person did not reach 110).
- Gerontology Research Group's tables of supercentenarians
- International Database on Longevity
- Supercentenarian Research Foundation