Be as Lazy as a Clam to Ensure Your Survival


Mollusks’ lack of ambition could be their secret weapon

Mollusks have been around for an estimated 450 million years.  The oldest remains of modern day homo sapien sapiens go back about 300,000 years.  What do they know that we don’t?

Show the clams some love, says Houston Museum of Natural Science Associate Curator of Paleontology David Temple. “Clams have done very, very well.  You can call them stupid because they don’t have brains, so they won’t be offended, but they are survivors and they are winners.”

In the battle of evolution to determine who is gonna win and who is gonna evolve, though brainless, mollusks rule.  Defined as “invertebrate of a large phylum that includes snails, slugs, mussels, and octopuses. They have a soft, unsegmented body and live in aquatic or damp habitats, and most kinds have an external calcareous shell,” it is their slow metabolism that promote the timeless endurance of shellfish.

An uncharacteristically very large study of mollusks by the University of Kansas examining five million years of history concludes that the higher an organism’s metabolic rate, the higher their chance of extinction. 

Sure, mollusks are witless, but they have slow metabolism and most don’t move around very much, and so far, it’s working for them.  Just watch out for the snails.

“Believe it or not there are hunter/killer snails, and these guys are pretty badass,” says Dr. Temple.   

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