Seven New Species Of Stunning And Stylish Peacock Spiders Discovered In Australia
Seven new species of colourful peacock spiders have been discovered and are ready to show off their fancy colours.
Spider enthusiast – yes, they exist – Joseph Schubert, who works at Museums Victoria in Australia, documented the discovery of the new arachnids after he travelled the country collecting specimens last year.
Though peacock spiders are still spiders, and therefore creepy, they are significantly less terrifying than most of their relatives. Peacock spiders are typically very small, only about the size of a grain of rice.
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Meet Australia’s seven newest species! Last year I travelled the country collecting specimens of these new peacock spiders (some of which were discovered by citizen scientists!) and spent countless hours in the lab studying them. The scientific paper describing and naming them was published in Zootaxa today! As of today, their official scientific names are: Maratus azureus, M. constellatus, M. inaquosus, M. laurenae, M. noggerup, M. suae, and M. volpei. Some welcome news in tough times.
While the females have more dull, black, brown and beige colourings, the males flaunt florescent, multicoloured bodies with the hopes of attracting females.
Males attempt to woo the ladies by waving their abdomens and legs around in a courtship dance, and some even have flaps than can be extended like a fan to further entice attention, much like male peacocks.
To the naked eye they might appear as nothing more than little specs hopping around, but upon closer inspection their fancy dance moves become clear.
Check out the new species here:
The new peacock spiders, described in in the journal Zootaxa, are called Maratus azureus, Maratus constellatus, Maratus laurenae, Maratus noggerup, Maratus suae, Maratus volpei, and Maratus inaquosus.
Schubert’s favourite discovery is Maratus constellatus, a species he found in the town of Kalbarri.
I ventured all the way to Kalbarri to find [Maratus constellatus] which is about a seven-hour drive north of Perth. The patterns on the abdomen to me just look so much like Starry Night by van Gogh, hence the name constellatus which means starry in Latin.
A few of the spiders in this paper were named after the people who had discovered them. A lot of the species are actually discovered by citizen scientists who’d documented the locality data and taken photos of the spiders and sent images to me.
Considering how many peacock spider species have been discovered in the past few years, I certainly think that there are more out there to be found.
The new species hail primarily from Western Australia, though Maratus volpei was discovered in South Australia, and Maratus inaquosus in Victoria.
Schubert has now written up 12 of the 85 known species in this group, and he’s looking forward to describing and naming more in the coming years.
The arachnologist shared a picture of the new discoveries on his Instagram to introduce them to the world, adding the findings provided ‘some welcome news in tough times’.
I’m not normally one to find spiders cute in any sense, but I admit I could watch these little guys dance all day long.
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