The ‘survival of the laziest’ is the key to avoiding extinction

The species Anadara aequalitas was a part of the KU study suggest a higher metabolic rate a reliable predictor of extinction probability. (Credit: Hendricks, J. R., Stigall, A. L., and Lieberman)

When your mother told you to clean your room and you said that you would do it later appears that you are just trying to survive.

A new study by researchers at the University of Kansas suggests that species that use more energy on a daily basis are at a greater risk of dying than those who are more sedentary.

“We asked ourselves, ‘would you be Able to look at the probability of extinction of a species, based on the energy absorption by an organism?'” said Luke Strotz, post-doctoral researcher at the KU Biodiversity Institute and natural history Museum and the study’s lead author, in a statement.


In the research, Strotz and his team compared 300 million different mollusk species, including those that were extinct 5 million years ago, and be on the extinct species had a higher metabolism. “Who are extinct tend to have a higher metabolism than those who are still alive,” Strotz added. “Which have a lower energy-maintenance requirements seem more likely to survive than organisms with a higher metabolic rate.”

The study was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Bruce Lieberman, a co-author of the study, added that “survival of the fittest,” a phrase that the emergence of Darwin’s theory of evolution, should be reviewed.

“In place of” survival of the fittest’,’ might be a better metaphor for the history of life is “survival of the most lazy’ or at least ‘the survival of the slow,'” Lieberman said.

Strotz added that, although there are a lot of factors and different inputs that are of interest when it comes to extinction, and the metabolism, it is particularly important to pay attention to.

“On the species level of the metabolism, is not the-all, end-all of extinction — there are a lot of factors play a role. But these results say that the metabolism of an organism and is a part of extinction probability”, ” Strotz said in the statement. “With an increased metabolism, a species is more likely to become extinct. So, it is another tool in the toolbox. This increases our knowledge of the mechanisms that drive extinction, and help us to better determine the probability of an extinct species.”

So far, the results are only applicable to molluscs (which were used because of the abundance of data on living and extinct species), but added that more work needs to be done to see if there is a link between metabolism and other animals.

“We see this as generalizable to other groups, in each case within the maritime world,” Strotz said. “A number of the following steps to extend to other subtypes, to see if the result is consistent with what we know about other groups.”

Clades are organisms that evolved from a common ancestor.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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