New research suggests an effective evolutionary strategy: be lazy.
Species of mollusks that are now extinct had higher metabolic rates than the species that exist today, scientists announced in a paper published this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B .
Metabolic rates are the amount of energy that organisms need to live their daily lives. Luke Strotz, paleontologist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Kansas, the lead author of the article, says that high basal metabolic rates have already resulted in a higher likelihood of death on an individual level.
"But that which rises to the level of the species is probably the great result of this study," he says NPR. "That something that happens at the level of all these individuals can scale up to that level of species, and that at the species level, higher metabolic rates actually affect the likelihood that this species will actually die out."
The researchers investigated the metabolic rates of 299 mollusc species living since the middle of the Pliocene, a period of about 5 million years. They specifically analyzed clams (clams, clams) and snails (snails).
How do you calculate the metabolic rate of an extinct scallop? In part, by measuring its shell ̵
"Molluscs have extremely long fossil stocks," says Strotz. "They go back almost to the beginnings of animal life."
He says earlier research has shown that extinction is associated with things, such as the area of a species, the size of the population of a species, or how the various populations of a species are linked together.
"We did not really find that there was a physiological component to the likelihood of extinction of a species" until this work, says Strotz – though he warns the results only to note mollusks.
He hopes to extend the team's research to other species, including vertebrates. Until then, unfortunately, we can not draw any conclusions about the survival of certain couch creatures.