William Harvey dissecting the body of Thomas Parr. Oil painting, ca. 1900. / Wellcome Images (Wellcome Trust) via Wikimedia Commons
By Dolly Stolze / 01.02.2018
On August 4, 1997, newspapers around the world announced the death of Jeanne Louise Calment, who died her home in Arles, France. She was not a political leader, a scientist, or a famous actress. Jean had the world’s longest (recorded) lifespan of 122 years when she passed. The French woman was considered a supercentenarian, a person who lives to be at least 110 years old.
Lifespans that exceed 110 years are very rare, occurring only one in 1,000 people living to 100-years-old. Although there have been plenty of people throughout history who have claimed to have lived more than 110 years, historians rely on objective documentation, like birth and church records, to substantiate their statements. One of the most disputed stories of extreme age belongs to a 17th century man named Thomas Parr, who claimed to be 152 years old at the time of his death.