A new large-data study of fossil and extant bivalves and gastropods in the Atlantic Ocean suggests laziness might be a fruitful strategy for survival of individuals, species and even communities of species. The results have just been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B by a research team based at the University of Kansas.
Looking at a period of roughly 5 million years from the mid-Pliocene to the present, the researchers analyzed 299 species' metabolic rates - or, the amount of energy the organisms need to live their daily lives - and found higher metabolic rates were a reliable predictor of extinction likelihood.
"We wondered, 'Could you look at the probability of extinction of a species based on energy uptake by an organism?'" said Luke Strotz, postdoctoral researcher at KU's Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum and lead author of the paper. "We found a difference for mollusk 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."
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I am not convinced that a lower metabolic rate equates to "laziness", but I'm fairly certain that I am living proof of what this study concludes.