September 1st, 2018| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


You think your kids are lazy? Well, they may be on to something.

So say researchers from the University of Kansas, authors of “Metabolic Rates, Climate and Macroevolution: A Case Study Using Neogene Molluscs,” published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Of course, they were looking at fossilized and existing bivalves and gastropods in the Atlantic Ocean, but still ….

Laziness, apparently, is a fruitful strategy for the survival of individuals, of species, and perhaps even of communities of species.

Looking at mollusks from the mid-Pliocene to the present, the metabolic rates of 200 diverse species was studied, particularly the amount of energy these beasts needed to conduct their daily lives. And guess what? Higher metabolic rates of certain species were a reliable predictor that that species would go extinct.

Here’s the lead author, Luke Strotz:

We wondered, “Could you look at the probability of extinction of a species based on energy uptake by an organism?’ 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.”

A line from the abstract:

Species-specific Basic Metabolic Rates were calculated by measuring the size range of specimens from museum collections, determining ocean temperature using the Hadley Centre Coupled Model for global climate, and deriving values based on relevant equations.”

Whatever that means, I’ll take their word for it.

Co-author Bruce Liebermann added:

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. 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.’”

Oooh! “Lassitudinous.” Love it. Makes my laziness look classy.

In any case, said Strotz:

There is a question as to whether this is just a mollusk phenomenon? There’s some justification, given the size of this data set, and the long amount of time it covers, that it’s generalizable. But you need to look—can it apply to vertebrates? Can it apply on land?”

Sure, why not? “Survival of the sluggish.”

But here’s the Bible’s opinion on all that:

The sluggard does not plow after the autumn,
So he begs during the harvest and has nothing.
Proverbs 20:4

I passed by the field of the sluggard And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,
And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles;
Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down.
When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction.
“A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest,”
Then your poverty will come as a robber And your want like an armed man.
Proverbs 24:30–34

Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest.
How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?
“A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest”—
Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man.
Proverbs 6:6–11

Lassitudinous is not a good goal, then? You mean, I should keep going to the gym?


Oh, wait, I’m gonna be extinct anyway …

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