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Discovery Magazine 11/1/2008

Granddaddy Long-Legs

As a boy in northern Arizona, it was not unusual to see an odd-looking little creature that adults called a “Granddaddy long-legs.” They were harmless and liked to climb everywhere. More properly called “harvestmen,” daddy long-legs are not spiders—though they are arachnids (eight-legged arthropods). Some 7,000 kinds have been found worldwide, but many more remain unnamed. Harvestmen do not produce silk, have no fangs or venom glands, and have one body part (not two as in spiders, or three as in insects). On top of the head is a little black knob with a tiny eye on each side that can detect moving objects several feet away. Daddy long-legs eat almost anything—from small insects, snails, worms, and other dead material, to plants and fruits.

God equipped daddy long-legs with several ways to defend and protect itself—marvels of intelligent design. A pair of scent pores at the front of the body secretes a nasty smell. A small predator (mouse, bird, or spider) that tries to grab the daddy long-legs gets a mouthful of this smelly material for his trouble. Sometimes, many daddy long-legs will aggregate (get together) in large numbers. Scientists are not sure, but they think one reason the long-legs do this is to combine their smelly secretions to ward off predators more effectively. Also, in these large numbers, each long-leg can wildly vibrate its body (called “bobbing”). Researchers believe that a huge, wiggling mass of daddy long-legs could be intimidating to predators. Some species even glue debris onto their bodies to scare away enemies, while others play dead when disturbed.

An even more amazing defensive practice has to do with the legs. If humans had legs in proportion to the daddy long-leg, our legs would be 40 feet long! The first pair of legs is the shortest; the second pair is the longest and has sensitive tips to explore, search for food, and warn of danger. What’s amazing is the fact that God designed daddy long-legs to be able to detach their legs in order to confuse would-be predators. The legs continue to twitch after they are detached because pacemakers are located in the ends of the first long segment of the legs. These pacemakers send signals through the nerves to the muscles to flex the leg, with the leg relaxing between signals. Scientists think that the twitching holds the attention of a predator while the daddy long-legs escapes. Some legs will twitch for a minute, while some have been recorded to twitch for up to an hour! Losing a leg is no problem—since God designed the daddy long-legs to grow another.

Notice that humans, with all their intelligence, powers of observation, and years of research, still don’t know for sure the meaning of various actions and behaviors of the daddy long-legs. Yet all agree that their actions are intentional and meaningful. This fact points to a higher Mind that created the daddy long-legs and all creatures with pre-planned behaviors that fit into the rest of the natural order. God’s creatures serve important purposes. They are necessary parts of the larger environment so that the Earth continues for as long as God intends. Even the extinction of species does not seriously upset the environment, since God has created so many “creeping things” (Genesis 1:24).

Evolutionists have found fossils of daddy long-legs that they claim are 400 million years old. They admit that these fossils “look surprisingly modern, indicating that the basic structure of the harvestmen has not changed much since then” and “have remained almost unchanged morphologically over a long period.” In other words, God created daddy long-legs at the beginning and they look now the way they looked when God created them—they have not evolved from lower life forms or into anything else.

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