Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Snail Longevity Ratio Surpasses Humans

Natural selection is favouring snails with reduced metabolic rates, researchers at London’s prestigious Rothshite Institute for Wasting Taxpayers Money have discovered.

It is the first time that Darwinian evolution has been observed to select for this trait in individuals of any species.

Snails with lower metabolisms are at an advantage because they have more energy to spend on other activities, such as water skiing or snow boarding, the researchers claim in the science journal Numptynomics.

Escargologists Virginia Muffitch and Candida Twatrot of the Rothshite Institute examined a crackpot biological hypothesis known as the "energetic definition of fitness".
"This predicts that animals expending less energy will have more surplus for survival and reproduction," claims Dr. Muffitch.

Few studies have ever bothered to waste time testing the idea, and three previously performed with arthiritic tortoises could not find any evidence it was true.
"Ours is the fourth and the first to demonstrate significant directional selection on metabolism," Dr. Twatrot informed a reporter from the Gastropod Review.

The biologists measured the size of almost 100 garden snails (Helix aspersa).
They also gauged their standard metabolic rate (SMR), by measuring how much carbon dioxide each animal produced while at rest and how much methane it expelled through farting.

The standard metabolic rate is a measure of the minimal amount of energy an animal requires to stay alive by breathing in and out occasionally, and not forgetting to, and going into an oxygen-depleted catatonic state.

"Standard metabolic rate is the energy required for maintenance. In other words, having less maintenance permits you to have more energy for other activities like swimming – or watching telly. That's why less metabolism represents higher fitness," says Dr. Muffitch.

Six months after releasing the snails – all equipped with satellite tracking microchips - they recaptured the animals, collecting the empty shells of those which had been pecked to death and eaten by birds.

They found size did not predict which animals survived. But metabolic rate did, with surviving snails having a metabolic rate 20% lower than that of the snails that didn't survive due their practicing Hatha yoga breathing techniques.

The researchers now plan to answer the ultimate question: is having a slow metabolism linked to moving slowly?
If it is, that means that snails are not only evolving to use energy more slowly, but are increasingly moving at an even lower ‘snail's pace’.

The obvious conclusion, even at this juncture of the research, evidently indicates that the slower an animal moves – or doesn’t move at all – the greater degree of longevity will be achieved and enjoyed.

Well, snails apart, that’s excellent news for those legions of overweight sub-human slobs known to anthropologists as ‘Homo Sofas Spudus’ – commonly referred to as ‘Couch Potatoes’.


No comments: