How Daddy Longlegs Learn To Walk With Fewer Legs After Releasing Them To Escape Danger

August 28, 2017

daddy-longlegs-leg-dropping.jpg

This is a video from the PBS series Deep Look discussing how daddy longlegs can purposefully release their legs (a form of autonomy -- like a lizard losing its tail) to avoid predators and live to creep out my girlfriend another day.

Daddy longlegs' appendages don't need to be pulled off because these arachnids, related to spiders, drop them deliberately. A gentle pinch is enough to trigger an internal system that discharges the leg. It's a way to stay alive in the wild if something is trying to devour the bug's limb.

If you skip to 2:45 in the video you can actually watch a scientist gripping the legs of a daddy longlegs so it releases them and he can study how it learns to walk without them. They seem to do fine all the way up to losing three legs. What happens if they lose more than that? My guess is things get a whole lot sadder, especially if all the legs were from the same side.

Keep going for the video.

Thanks to Dip, who agrees if daddy longlegs were really smart they'd learn how to grow those legs back like my uncle did with his finger after cutting it off with a table saw. I think he used pixie dust.

  • asdfadfs

    ...do they grow back eventually?

  • Doog

    No, they cannot regrow their legs. Part of what makes this appalling to me.

  • Doog

    I had no idea that they could climb upside down like that. Also, saying "After Releasing Them To Escape Danger" is a tad disingenuous considering you were the danger and although you didn't actually pull the leg off you did pinch it until it decided it would rather continue living without a leg than be confined by you.

    "It's really no big deal" I bet it would disagree with you if it had the ability to do so.

    I'm no animal activist, but removing limbs from a living thing just to make a video with cool visual effects seems twisted. "Let's see this human survive in the wild after losing a leg, it's no big deal because we cauterized the wound. This limping movement he's making his called Hobbling by scientists. Notice how he falls down every step and gets back up."

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