A higher metabolic rate is not necessarily a good thing. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Grzegorz Polak
In some species, the key to success may be more about 'survival of the laziest' than 'survival of the fittest'.
In a new study, palaeontologist Luke Strotz from the University of Kansas and his team looked at over 300 species of slugs, snails and molluscs that have existed over the last 5.3 million years.
Intriguingly, it seemed that those with high metabolic rates were ultimately more likely to go extinct than those with lower metabolic rates.
"We found a difference for mollusc species that have gone extinct over the past 5 million years and ones that are still around today," said Strotz.
"Those that have gone extinct tend to have higher metabolic rates than those that are still living. Those that have lower energy maintenance requirements seem more likely to survive than those organisms with higher metabolic rates."
The findings certainly make sense - the more energy an organism requires the more vulnerable it is, especially over the course of millions of years.
"Maybe in the long term the best evolutionary strategy for animals is to be lassitudinous and sluggish - the lower the metabolic rate, the more likely the species you belong to will survive," said evolutionary biologist Bruce Lieberman.
"Instead of 'survival of the fittest,' maybe a better metaphor for the history of life is 'survival of the laziest' or at least 'survival of the sluggish.'"
Source: Science Alert | Comments (12)