Turns out the laziest animals may inherit the Earth after all

Turns out the laziest animals may inherit the Earth after all

Need another excuse to put off those chores and deadlines and snuggle in for a nap and some Netflix instead? Science may have your back.

While we’ve always subscribed to Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest, it seems like survival of the laziest… or sluggish, may be more likely—at least when it comes to creatures living in the ocean.

A group of evolutionary biologists studied roughly 300 forms of sea snails, slugs, mussels, and scallops that existed in the Atlantic over the last five million years, and what they found was that those species with a higher metabolism were more likely to have gone extinct than those that were a little less energetic—especially when they lived in small ocean habitats.

“The lower the metabolic rate, the more likely the species you belong to will survive,” said research lead Bruce Liberman, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Kansas University. “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.’”

Liberman and his team looked at 299 species of Western Atlantic Ocean-dwelling gastropods from 5.33 million years ago to present day for the study, calculating each of their resting metabolic rates. They found that the energy used for the 178 extinct species was vastly different than those that survived to present-day, leading the researchers to believe that species with lower energy or food requirements were more likely to survive when times were bad.

Before you go ordering a pizza and changing into your stretchy pants though, there’s no proof lazy humans are more likely to survive than society’s go-getters. Sure, these findings represent a new link between extinction and energy, but researchers have yet to extend that research to a wider variety of species, including other marine creatures and potentially land mammals.

“This result doesn’t necessarily mean that lazy people are the fittest, because alas sometimes those lazy people are the ones that consume the most resources,” Lieberman added. “Humanity’s laziness, when it comes to trying to arrest the changes to the planet we are causing, may be the biggest peril our own species faces. But in a nutshell our work indicates that being sluggish can make you more likely to survive. So, here’s to a nap, after we solve our planet’s environmental crisis.”