Well, it looks like being lazy isn’t all that bad as this trait could possibly be the key to survival, a new study shows. In a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the research by a team based at the University of Kansas suggests that being sluggish and using less energy could be the best way to preserve a certain species from extinction.
The scientists gathered data from over 300 million species of mollusc that lived in the Atlantic Ocean over a period spanning roughly five million years and concluded that those who use lesser energy are very likely to still be surviving today. However, those species that had a higher metabolism that required more energy were more likely to already be extinct, University of Kansas reported.
“We wondered, ‘Could you look at the probability of extinction of a species based on energy uptake by an organism?’ We found a difference for mollusc species that have gone extinct over the past 5 million years and ones that are still around today. 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,” said Luke Strotz, postdoctoral researcher at KU’s Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum, and lead author of the paper.
Bruce Lieberman, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology who is also a co-author for the study said, “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. 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’.”
The study was done as the researchers wanted to establish which species are at a higher risk of extinction and they decided to do their study on molluscs as there was a huge amount of data readily available on living and extinct bivalve and gastropod species.
However, the conclusion of this study doesn’t exactly mean that we should hang up our running shoes and settle down to be a couch potato. Currently, the study seems to be applicable only in the marine world but they want to do further testing to see whether the results would affect other biological groups as well.
Strotz says that the metabolic rates only represent the average metabolism for the species so sudden changes as an individual probably won’t make a difference.
Until there is concrete proof that we should all be couch potatoes, perhaps the best bet is to stick with age-old advice to stay active and healthy!
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