Even though we might think that “survival of the fittest” still applies, a new study indicates that, on the contrary, “lazier species” would conquer the Earth, and the scientists involved in this research even argue their conclusions with substantial scientific evidence.
After thoroughly analyzed both fossil and surviving bivalves and gastropods from the Atlantic Ocean, the scientists from the University of Kansas concluded that those species with lower metabolic rates are less likely to face extinction. And they know what they’re talking about because they’ve reviewed the metabolic rate of about 300 species over a period of not less than five million years.
Issued in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal, the recent study revealed that the species with reduced daily energy requirements are less likely to face extinction in comparison to those living creatures with higher metabolic needs. That comes, to some extent, as a surprising discovery that contradicts some of the predictions regarding the evolution of life on Earth.
Forget about the “survival of the fittest” – Now, “lazier species” with a low metabolic rate would survive
“Maybe in the long term the best evolutionary strategy for animals is to be lassitudinous and sluggish, as the lower the metabolic rate, the more likely the species you belong to will survive,” said Bruce Lieberman, the study’s leading author, who got help with his research from Luke Strotz, from the University of Kansas, and Erin Saupe, from the Oxford University.
“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,'” added Bruce Lieberman.
Studying mollusks species, both surviving and extinct, the researchers found out that those species that vanished had a higher metabolic rate than those who managed to survive until today.
According to the study’s co-author Luke Strotz, this new research is of great scientific importance as it is offering a new tool, a fresh “potential predictor of extinction probability,” adding that although it’s not a single factor of extinction, metabolic rate is making a big difference between species survival and extinction.