7 New Species of Dancing Peacock Spiders Have Been Found

June 7, 2016 | Erica Tennenhouse

Peacock spider, Maratus pavonis
Photo credit: Jean and Fred/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

“They are cute, they are colourful, they remind people of their own cat.”

Peacock spiders are tiny, spectacularly colored, and they know how to dance. These attributes have made these arachnids, which are native to Australia, immensely popular among spider enthusiasts and arachnophobes alike.

"They are harmless, they are cute, they are colourful, they remind people of their own cat. I often compare them with kittens with too many legs, so really people get excited when they see them," Jurgen Otto, a scientist from Sydney, told the CBC.

Last month, Otto and his colleague David Hill published a paper in Peckhamia (a scientific journal all about jumping spiders), in which they named 7 new species of peacock spiders, bringing the number of known species up to 48.

Each of the new species has eight legs, forward-facing eyes, and furry bodies, but their colors and patterns are highly variable. One species is brown and white and mimics a wasp, and others are brightly colored with iridescent scales.

Scientists can tell species apart by the pattern of the male’s fan, coloration on the spider’s head, and the ornamentation on its legs. But the best way to tell species apart is by their energetic mating dances.

Watch footage taken by Otto of a dancing Maratus splendens male here:


You might also like: Nature’s Strangest Mating Rituals

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