Dhruvika writes on sustainable practices in various sectors for BuzzOnEarth. Get in touch with her at dhruvika@buzzonearth.com. Sometimes she reads her emails too.

The popular phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ needs to be rephrased as ‘survival of the laziest’. According to a new study, the species which utilise less amount of energy as a way to preserve it, are less likely to go extinct.

The study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B by a research team based at the University of Kansas. The study was done using the data from more than 300 million species of mollusc that inhabited the Atlantic Ocean for nearly 500 million years.

The study reported that the species with a higher metabolism and in turn, requires more energy for surviving have higher chances of going extinct.

“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 mollusc 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,” said Luke Strotz,  lead author of the paper and postdoctoral researcher at KU’s Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum.

“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’,” said Bruce Lieberman, another co-author of the paper and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.’

The conclusion of the study applies only to the Waterworld, but scientists are keen to find if it fits the human and animals on the land and other biological groups.