Lazy Long Legs

OK, they only live for a few days and they look preposterous and no-one really likes them, but daddy long legs (daddies long legs? daddies long leg? daddy long legses?) have a pretty easy time of it. There’s been one on the living room window for five days, just sitting there looking in.

But they’re not the laziest species by any means, according to my exhaustive study of the literature.

At first, I was distracted by an internet meme that snails can sleep for three years.

Not so. Researchers in Canada recently decided to determine whether snails actually slept or simply sat around relaxing. Professor Richard Stephenson and Dr Vern Lewis of the University of Toronto spent weeks tapping on the shells of resting snails and finally concluded they were asleep for real. But they didn’t sleep for long. They took cat naps. ‘Snails need very little sleep because their lifestyles are not mentally demanding.’

As for other species, well, here’s a list of typical sleeping durations, in hours, per day –

Sloths 20
Brown bats 20
Armadillos 19
Opossums 18
Hippos 18
Lions 18
Cats 18
Owl monkeys 17
Lemurs 16
Hamsters 14
Squirrels 14
Pigs 13
Spiny anteaters 12
Pandas 10

So sloths do live up to their stereotype. Good for them.

But there is a lazier creature. It’s a beetle called eocorythoderus incredibilis. ‘Incredibilis’ sounds like someone made it up. But I’ve checked. It does exist. It was discovered in 2012.

Basically, your typical eocorythoderus incredibilis is an insect version of a squatter. It likes nothing better than hanging out in a termite nest and pinching termite food. But it can’t be bothered to look for it. So it impersonates a baby termite.

Baby termites (baby macrotermes gilvuses to be precise) are themselves extremely lazy and they’ve evolved natural handles so their parents can carry them to their food.

And the termite parents do the same for the eocorythoderus incredibilis, as it’s such a good impersonator. It eats the food, then gets carried back to bed and tucked in.

As for the daddy long legs on the window, well, it may be awake for all I know, having fascinating thoughts about quantum entanglement, transformational generative syntax or the evolutionary behaviour of the eocorythoderus incredibilis. But I doubt it. Perhaps a bored Canadian academic would like to investigate.