Monday, December 24, 2012

Meet The Most Gorgeous ‘Peacock Spider’

Maratus volans, better known as the Peacock Spider, is the dandiest, the cutest little thing you’ll see today. The male of this species has two rounded, most brilliantly colored skin-like flaps on either side of his abdomen that are folded down close against the sides of the body, like a shawl. The brilliant colouring is not just for decoration, he uses it when he courts his mate.

To get the attention of the female spider the male first waves his legs, vibrate his abdomen and moves from side to side. He also raises his third legs which have a brush of black bristles and the white-tipped ends. And then like a peacock, he raises the two magnificently coloured flaps and dances for the female. It’s this final act that has earned the spider, and indeed the whole genus Maratus, the name of Peacock Spider.

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The Peacock Spider is extremely tiny – a mere four millimetre in length. Hiding in the undergrowth, it is the sort of thing an average Australian bushwalker would pass right by, but not Dr Jurgen Otto who captured these shots on his camera.

“I have a very keen eye for small things”, said Dr Jurgen Otto. “When I walk around the bush I usually don't look into the trees, I usually look on the ground. There was a spider that just looked different to other spiders I'd seen before so I was very curious...and I took a couple of photos.”

The photographs revealed a most extraordinary looking jumping spider.

“Since then I've been wrapped and wanted to take more pictures so I kept coming back for 3 years but unfortunately I kept searching at the wrong spot.”

Three years later, Jurgen's perseverance paid off and he captured what he believes is the only footage of Australian Peacock spiders.

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Other species of the Peacock spider are equally impressive.

Maratus speciosus

The common name of this species is Coastal Peacock spider. Until recently it was called Saitis specious, but it is very similar to other species of Maratus and therefore is now included in this genus. The orange coloured hairs are only visible during the display. One of the most striking species in the genus Maratus, it can be found in metropolitan Perth.

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Maratus harrisi

This species was first photographed by Stuart Harris in December 2008, but it took another 3 years for another specimen to be found that could then be scientifically described. That specimen is now lodged in the Australian Museum as the holotype and the species is named in honour of Stuart. The specimen you see here is the third one ever photographed. It too came from Booroomba Rocks in Canberra and was collected by Stuart.

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Maratus linnaei

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Maratus mungaich

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Undescribed species of Maratus from Tasmania

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Undescribed species of Maratus from Sydney

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Maratus amabilis

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Darlington's peacock spider

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Maratus splendens

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Sources: Wikipedia, xs4all, Abc.net. All pictures by Dr Jurgen Otto.

12 comments:

  1. beautiful and repulsive in the same time

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  2. Regarding the linked sources: xs4all is an internet provider which also provides space for homepages. Therefore, xs4all is not the source, just the hoster of the source. But since you link to the page itself, I think it's alright. :)

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  3. This gave me chills! Regardless of the colors, it still has 8 creepy-crawly legs, too many eyes, and ugly coarse black hair all over! I went to Australia twice in 1999 for a month each time and I don't know how people there can live with small Redbacks that kill (and hide in shoes, beds, toilet seats!), and large monsters in Queensland that eat birds! I got nose to nose with the latter on a rainforest walk and people heard me scream from the parking lot 1/4 mile away! I could have won a running Marathon that day!

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    1. the asian gecko has wiped out the redback spider's, sad really

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  4. It's super cute! I want a few of em

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  5. These are beautiful and fascinating little creatures for certain. I used to be frightened by spiders but since I've been living in a basement apartment for the past four years they have become my friends. There are hundreds of spiders who live in my apartment with me, and I've never had a problem with one biting me, etc.

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  6. Fantastic images! I love photographing jumping spiders. They all seem to have a lot of character. This one especially!

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  7. Absolutely stunning and frightening photos.

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  8. I love spiders :]

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  9. They are lovely. I am wondering if they are venomous, or toxic, red and yellow seem to be quite common on them. Not usually a good sign.

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  10. ALL THESE SPIDERS ARE FABULOUS!! I LOVE SPIDERS! I HAVE MANY OF ALL KINDS AT MY BARN. UNFORTUNATELY LAST YEAR A BLACK WIDOW SPIDER GOT ME. I MADE IT TO THE HOSPITAL IN TIME!! THEY ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL!!

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