I think they originate from race engines, starting out as homemade by race boat owners/independant teams for various reasons, breathability, aerodynamics, carbon ones for light weight, also they can be used for accommodating certain aftermarket parts like big alternators, manifolds? etc.
I doubt you'll ever see them taking off in the rib market, rib owners by their nature don't go in for aesthetics. Not saying ribs are ugly, I think ribbers are the type of people that see the form in the function!
Similarly, apart from the obvious towing requirement, that's probably why a lot of us own 4X4's, like ribs they're designed to do a job, they do it well and they look good because of it