Posts Tagged ‘spider’


Dedicated and patient arachnologists identified two more species of peacock spider this year. Most of us have never heard of these creatures, but the more the better. They are creatures with whom it’s a pleasure to share the world. Not because they eat flies, though that’s a service much appreciated in their native Australia, but because the male performs an intricate dance with an iridescent fan raised over his body. The performance, which includes percussion with his feet, is all the more impressive because a septet of these showy spiders could fit on a man’s thumbnail. A male peacock spider is four millimeters long; that’s about one sixth of an inch.

The two new spider species add to the 40 or so in the genus Maratus, part of the family Salticidae—jumping spiders. There is Maratus skeletus, named for the bold white markings on the male’s black body. It’s dramatic, but the charmer is Maratus jactatus, nicknamed “Sparklemuffin” by the University of California, Berkeley graduate student Madeline Girard, whose paper in the journal Cell describes its astounding courtship dance.

“Sparklemuffin” spiders have so far been collected only in the Wondul Range National Park in Queensland. Not surprisingly few people have (more…)

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