For Snails, The Race to Survive Is a Race to Get Slower

By Rachel Cernansky | May 11, 2009 12:26 pm

snail.jpgAs if snails don’t get mocked enough for being so slow, evolution sure isn’t doing them any favors. It seems that evolution favors snails with a slower metabolism because they have more energy for other activities, such as growth and reproduction.

Testing the biological hypothesis of the “energetic definition of fitness,” which purports that the less energy an animal spends, the more it will have for survival and reproduction, the researchers measured the size and standard metabolic rate (the amount of energy required for maintenance) of nearly 100 garden snails. After seven months, the researchers found that surviving snails had a metabolic rate 20 percent lower than that of the dead snails—and no correlation between snail size and rate of survival.

“Having less maintenance permits you to have more energy for other activities,” said one of the study authors, which explains why a slower metabolism allows for a higher level of fitness. The researchers are still working, however, to answer the question of whether a slow metabolism is linked to slower movement.

If so, then a snail’s pace will only become ever more snailish.

Related Content:
Discoblog: On the Darwinian Fast-Track: Lizards Evolve Away Limbs

Image: Flickr / WTL photos

MORE ABOUT: animals, evolution, snails

    What I love the most about snails is that they’re hermaphrodites!


    How long do they live?

  • Pomona Belvedere

    I always enjoy it when established truths get a knock in the head or a spin sideways. (Unless they’re my own personal truths, of course!)

  • работа в эскорте

    You ought to really think about working on growing this site into a major authority in this market. You certainly have a grasp handle of the matters everyone is searching for on this website anyways and you could surely even make a dollar or two off of some promotion. I would explore following recent topics and raising the amount of write ups you put up and I guarantee you’d begin seeing some amazing targeted traffic in the near future. Just a thought, good luck in whatever you do!


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.

See More

Collapse bottom bar