Seven New Peacock Spiders Discovered: Species Dance To Attract Females

First Posted: Jun 09, 2016 06:00 AM EDT

Scientists have discovered seven new species of peacock spiders along the south coast of Western Australia. This makes the total number of peacock spiders to 48 in all.

The discovery was led by Dr. Jurgen Otto, a biologist and his colleagues, Dr. David Hill and David Knowles. Dr. Otto explained that he noticed an interesting pattern on the back of the spider, certainly an unusual one, and some iridescent patches. He further said that it was of average size for peacock spiders and looked characteristic for the genus. He also noticed the long (bristles) on the legs and also interesting marks behind the eyes. He named this species Maratus vespa, wherein it derives from the Latin word meaning "wasp," according to National Geographic.

The peacock spiders have colorful flaps around their abdomens that they raise up to shape like a fan while having an intricate dance. They perform these dances to attract the female spiders. On the other hand, if they fail to impress their potential partner they might be eaten by the female.

The male Maratus vespa spins its abdomen from side to side during its mating dance. This is to captivate the female. The scientists believe that the male holds the female attention so as to avoid becoming a meal. On the other hand, the wasp could also be a prey for the females. The male spider is courting death as much as the female, according to Daily Mail.

The new species of peacock spiders are named Maratus vespa, M.bubo, M.albus, M.lobatus, M.vultus, M.tessellatus and M.australis. The spiders were described in a paper and published in Peckhamia, a scientific journal specializing in jumping spiders on May 22. The peacock spiders are also referred to as jumping spiders.

Otto said that jumping spiders, in general, have a pretty big fan base. He added that he is constantly reminded of small animals when he watches them. He also believes there could well be additional species to be discovered.

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