Navigation Links
Marine snails get a metabolism boost

Durham, NC Most of us wouldn't consider slow-moving snails to be high-metabolism creatures. But at one point in the distant past, snail metabolism sped up, says a new study of marine snails in the journal Paleobiology.

"Many of the marine snails we recognize today such as abalone, conchs, periwinkles and whelks require more than twice as much energy to survive as their ancestors did," said co-author Seth Finnegan of the California Institute of Technology.

The findings come from a new analysis of snail fossils formed one to two hundred million years ago, during a period dubbed the Marine Mesozoic Revolution.

Estimating the metabolism of an animal that lived millions of years ago isn't easy. But body size gives us a clue, the authors said. In animals alive today, animals with bigger bodies tend to have higher basal metabolic rates, they explained.

"Bigger-bodied creatures simply require more calories to carry out basic functions," Finnegan said.

By assembling a database of several thousand species of living and extinct snails, the researchers were able to compile body size measurements from the snail fossil record stretching back more than 200 million years, and compare them to physiological data from different-sized snails living today.

The overall trend? Between 200 and 80 million years ago, the resting metabolic rate of tropical marine snails more than doubled, said co-author Jonathan Payne of Stanford University.

The driving force for this change was probably diet, the authors argue. Clues from fossilized shells suggest that prior to this time, most marine snails fed on plants and decaying organic matter. Then, over time, some snails evolved to feed on each other, Finnegan explained.

"To the best our ability to tell from their fossilized remains, almost none of the snails that lived prior to the Marine Mesozoic Revolution were predatory," Finnegan said. "Then the snails that really began to diversify during this period were dominated largely by predatory groups."

The evolutionary arms race between snail predators and their prey drove them to rev up their metabolic rates, Payne explained.

"As predators evolved to be faster and stronger, and prey evolved thicker, more reinforced shells to avoid being eaten, they had to use more and more energy to survive," he said.

The next step will be to see if the same trends can be found in other animals too, the authors added.

"Marine snails are one of the most diverse groups of animals out there, but we should see the same trend in other well-preserved animals too," said co-author Craig McClain of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, NC.

The team's findings appear in the May 2011 issue of Paleobiology.


Contact: Robin Ann Smith
National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)

Related biology news :

1. Pew announces 2011 recipients of distinguished marine conservation fellowship
2. Seafloor recovery from fishing gear impacts in Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary slow, unstable
3. The ultimate camo: Team to mimic camouflage skill of marine animals in high-tech materials
4. Scotlands first marine reserve already producing benefits
5. Marine organisms with eternal life can solve the riddle of aging
6. VIMS study: Propeller turbulence may affect marine food webs
7. Studies of marine animals aim to help prevent rejection of transplanted organs
8. Death -- not just life -- important link in marine ecosystems
9. Human impacts on the marine ecosystems of Antarctica
10. New device uses submarine technology to diagnose stroke quickly
11. Algae, bacteria hogged oxygen after ancient mass extinction, slowed marine life recovery
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/12/2015)... CAMBRIDGE, Mass. , Nov. 12, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for use ... chemical discovery information management tools. The partnership will ... share both biological and chemical research information internally ... tools will be used for managing the Institute,s ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... , Nov. 09, 2015 ... the addition of the "Global Law ... their offering. --> ) ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) has ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  The J. Craig Venter ... titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options ... of Health and Human Services guidance for synthetic biology ... --> --> ... has the potential to pose unique biosecurity threats. It ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... , November 25, 2015 ... Research Report is a professional and in-depth study ...      (Logo: ) , ... of the industry including definitions, classifications, applications and ... provided for the international markets including development trends, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced Dr. Bruce Clarke, of ... since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award recognizes an individual’s distinguished service to the ... of Iselin, N.J., is an extension specialist of turfgrass pathology in the department of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 /CNW/ - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or "the Company") ... for the quarter ended September 30, 2015. Amounts, ... and presented under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS"). ... said Andrew Rae , President & CEO ... not only value enriching for this clinical program, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS) (TSX: AEZ) (the ... the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms that as of the ... developments that would cause the recent movements in the ... --> About Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty biopharmaceutical company engaged in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: