Life-Dinner Principle

The evolutionary incentive for predators to catch their prey is greater than the incentive for prey to get away from predators. While it is true that the prey’s life is literally on the line in the evolutionary arms race between predators and prey, the predator must catch prey to survive. Prey may survive merely being stronger, and therefore a worse target, than the rest of its kin. A predator, on the other hand, will die if it never catches prey. A world in which the prey’s survival capabilities exceed the predator’s abilities is a world in which the predator doesn’t exist. Consequently, if a predator exists, its capabilities must exceed that of its prey.
“Richard Dawkins and John Krebs raised one argument derived from arms races to the level of a ‘principle’: the ‘life-dinner principle.’ A rabbit running from a fox is running for its life, so it has the greater evolutionary incentive to be fast. The fox is merely after its dinner. True enough, but what about a gazelle running from a cheetah? Whereas foxes eat things other than rabbits, cheetahs eat only gazelles. A slow gazelle might never be unlucky enough to meet a cheetah, but a slow cheetah that never catches anything dies. So the downside is greater for the cheetah. As Dawkins and Krebs put it, the specialist will usually win the race” (68, The Red Queen)
The Red Queen by Matt Ridley

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