Laziness is a winning evolutionary strategy that postpones extinction, leading scientists have found.
The previously overlooked law of natural selection based on "survival of the slacker" has been uncovered in a new study.
It suggests that being lazy can be a good way to ensure the survival of individuals and even entire groups of species.
And the findings can have important implications for predicting the fate of species that are affected by climate change.
Although the research is based on low molluscs on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, the authors believe that this may also apply to higher animals.
Scientists conducted a comprehensive study of the energy needs of 299 species of extinct and live bivalves and gastropods spread over a period of five million years.
Those who died to extinction to this day were mostly "low-maintenance" species with minimal energy requirements, they found.
The molluscs that had disappeared had higher metabolic values than their still-growing cousins.
The American ecologist Professor Bruce Lieberman, who was co-leader of the University of Kansas team, said: "Perhaps the best evolutionary strategy for animals in the long run is lassitudinous and slow.
"The lower the metabolism, the greater the chance that the species you belong to will survive." Instead of survival of the fittest & # 39; is perhaps a better metaphor for the history of life & # 39; survive the laziest & # 39; or at least "survive the slow & # 39 ;."
The findings, reported in the Royal Society B Proceedings magazine, can help predict the fate of species if they are affected by climate change.
Dr. Luke Strotz, also from the University of Kansas, said: "In a sense, we are looking at a potential predictor of the extinction probability.
"At the level of the species, the metabolism is not the only, but the end of extinction – there are many factors that play, but these results say that the metabolic rate of an organism is part of the likelihood of extinction.
"With a higher level of metabolism, a species will probably become more extinct, so it is another tool in the toolbox, which will increase our understanding of the mechanisms that cause extinction and help us better determine the likelihood of extinction."
Energy consumption had a greater impact on species that were closely distributed, according to the researchers.
Species with a narrow range reached much more often if they had a high metabolism.
Molluscs were used for the study because of the huge amount of available data on live and extinct bivalve and gastropod species.
The team now plans follow-up to see if the "survival of the most lazy" natural selection applies to other types of animals.
Dr. Strotz added: "There is a question about whether this is just a mollusc phenomenon.
"There is some justification, given the size of this dataset, and the length of time it covers, that it can be generalized." But you have to look – can it apply to vertebrates? Can it apply to the land? "