Giant tortoise called Jon who is older than Big Ben could help cure cancer

A cure for cancer could be found thanks to a 188-year-old giant tortoise called Jonathan.

Scientists are studying the world’s oldest known living land animal, whose health is miraculously improving with age.

Jonathan, who lives on the British island of St Helena in the South Atlantic, was around at the time of Queen Victoria and is older than Big Ben and The Eiffel Tower.

He was fully grown and at least aged 50 when he arrived on the island in 1882.

Scientists want to find out the secret to his long life in a bid to crack the code of human cell mutation, which triggers cancer. If they are successful they could wipe out cancer and give humans longer lives.

His vet Dr Joe Hollins said: “Imagine how shell shocked we’d all be if Jonathan turns out to help in some way to bring about a cure or treatment for cancer.

“There are some research documents out there that suggest giant tortoises don’t age in the way we do, they just wear out.

“On that basis, we are taking DNA samples from Jonathan at the moment and sending them to a university in America interested in studying the longevity and almost the immortality of giant tortoises.

These researchers are looking into the causes of cancer using his DNA and I think that is a very interesting aspect of how giant tortoises could help us all as humans.”

Age reversal in Jonathan has seen his old “blunt and crumbly” soft beak slowly regenerate.

Joe said: “It was sharp again, which meant he could graze again.

“Normally the beak is lethal, it has these tiny backwards-pointing scythes that cut the grass, but until it hardened again, he couldn’t do any of that.”

Islanders are planning a public holiday in tribute when, or perhaps if, Jonathan eventually dies.

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