‘Survival Of The Laziest’ May Be Key To Evolution, Study Suggests

Molluscs that had gone the way of the dinosaurs and disappeared had higher metabolic rates than their still flourishing cousins

Molluscs that had gone the way of the dinosaurs and disappeared had higher metabolic rates than their still flourishing cousins

The researchers said in a statement: "If you've got an unemployed, 30 year-old adult child still living in the basement, fear not". "It turned out that the extinct invertebrates, on average, had faster metabolism than those species that exist today", says Luke, Strotz from the University of Kansas in the United States.Conducting the study, Strotz and his colleagues took advantage of the fact that the structure of the shells of many species of bivalves and gastropods cousins directly reflects how fast is their body.

The researchers also considered their findings as another potential predictor of extinction probability.

"We find the broadly distributed species don't show the same relationship between extinction and metabolic rate as species with a narrow distribution", Strotz said.

Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Bruce Lieberman added that their findings point to a new philosophy when it comes to staying alive: less is more.

Upon investigation, they found that the species that have managed to survive all these years are mostly "low maintenance" kinds that do not requires a lot of energy. "Those that have gone extinct tend to have higher metabolic rates than those that are still living".

Using a creature's resting metabolic rate, however, can only be an accurate predictor of the species' lifespan if the organisms are confined in a smaller habitat.

The study titled "Metabolic Rates, Climate and Macroevolution: A Case Study with Neogene Mollusks" can help conservationists predict which species are at high risk of extinction when resources go low due to climate change.

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Strotz believes it's another tool in the toolbox. However, it does increase the likelihood as well as help scientists gain a better understanding of the mechanisms behind extinction.

Metabolic rate is to a lesser degree a hazard factor for animal groups with a wide dispersion crosswise over various environments and biological communities.

Molluscs that had gone the way of the dinosaurs and disappeared had higher metabolic rates than their still flourishing cousins.

In the near future, scientists plan to test whether a similar pattern among other species of flora and fauna, including vertebrates living in the seas and on land. This was a surprise, as you'd expect the community level metabolic rate to change as time goes by. "I used a lot of fossil material from collections around the U.S". "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".

"There is some justification, given the size of this data set, and the long amount of time it covers, that it is generalisable". You no longer need to make excuses and worry about those who complain about your lifestyle.

The researchers studied the metabolic rate of the clams and made conclusions about the survival of the species. Credit: Hendricks, J. R., Stigall, A. L., and Lieberman, B. Credit: Neogene Atlas of Ancient Life / University of Kansas. Palaeontologia Electronica, Article 18.2.3E.

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