“Maybe in the long term the best evolutionary strategy for animals is to be lassitudinous and sluggish,” said Bruce Lieberman, evolutionary biologist.
New assessment of species’ metabolic rates during the mid-Pliocene epoch hints higher energy expenditures place animals at larger risk of extinction.
Published this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, the determinations suggest laziness is an effective long-term survival scheme.
“Those that have lower energy maintenance requirements seem more likely to survive than those organisms with higher metabolic rates,” Luke Strotz, a postdoctoral scientist at the University of Kansas‘ Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum, spoke in a press release.
When scientists traced the fates of mid-Pliocene species over the last 5,000,000 years, they unearthed species with higher metabolic rates were more likely to have vanished.
Scientists examined the metabolic and extinction rates of mollusk taxa primarily because the animals are plentiful in the fossil record. The research could assist scientists in predicting which modernized species are most at risk of extinction.
“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,” stated Bruce Lieberman, professor of evolutionary and ecology biology.
“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 revealing that metabolism plays a role will aid scientists to calculate extinction probability more accurately.
Though, metabolic rate is less of a risk factor for species with a wide distribution over different ecosystems and habitats.
Scientists plan to study the relationship between metabolism and extinction rates among various animal groups.
“We see these results as generalizable to other groups, at least within the marine realm,” explained Strotz. “Some of the next steps are to expand it out to other clades, to see if the result is consistent with some things we know about other groups.”
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