The oldest living person ever may have been discovered in Bolivia: 123-year-old Carmelo Flores Laura.
The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Bolivian public records claim Flores Laura, who is a herder in Aymara, could be the oldest living person on record, shattering the current record held by 115-year-old Misao Okawa and the oldest ever.
The director of Bolivia's civil registrar, Eugenio Condori, said Flores Laura’s birthday is July 16, 1890, according to the official registry. However, Bolivia did not keep birth certificates until 1940, but instead kept records with Roman Catholic priests.
"For the state, the baptism certificate is valid," Condori said.
Flores Laura, who turned 123 a month ago, lives in a hut with a straw roof and dirt floor near Lake Titicaca in Aymara. The AP reported he is illiterate, speaks no Spanish and doesn’t have teeth. Miraculously, he doesn’t use a can or wear glasses but speaks very softly in low-volume in Aymara.
"I see a bit dimly. I had good vision before. But I saw you coming,” he told AP reporters.
However, Guinness spokeswoman Jamie Panas said the organization did not receive a claim for Flores Laura, perhaps because he doesn’t know his exact age. "I should be about 100 years old or more," he said.
Flores Laura’s grandson, Edwin, said that it could be because his memory is depleting. The 27-year-old, who lives next door, said his grandfather fought in the 1933 Chaco war with Paraguay but he only vaguely remembers.
The 123-year-old said he owes his job herding cattle and sheep to his longevity, as well as a proper diet.
"I walk a lot, that's all. I go out with the animals," Flores Laura said. "I don't eat noodles or rice, only barley. I used to grow potatoes, beans, oca (an Andean tuber)." He added that he doesn’t drink alcohol, doesn’t eat pork and drinks water from the peak of Illampu, the fourth highest mountain in Bolivia.
Flores Laura lost his wife more than a decade ago, as well as two of their three children. However, he has 40 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
Guinness said the current oldest living person is 115-year-old Misao Okawa of Japan. If Flores Laura is verified as the oldest living person by Guinness, he will beat out Okawa as well as Jeanne Calment of France, who held the oldest verified age at 122 years and 164 days until she died in 1997.