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How far would you go to attract the opposite sex? A tiny creature like the peacock spider might teach you some tricks. It is not a new phenomenon where males display themselves for attracting the best female mates. Even the birds like peacock follow the same routine when it comes to attracting females; they display their colorful wings and perform their joyful dance that is truly fascinating to watch. It seems that the spider peacock is somewhat inspired by a male peacock. Let’s find out how.
The peacock spiders are scientifically known as “Maratus Volans” and commonly called the Jumping Peacock Spider. They belong to the family of Salticidae i.e. the jumping spiders. So far these species are only found in New South Wales and Queensland. Although Australia is known for a large species of spiders but this one is very little in population. Out of 20 species of Peacock Spiders only 8 have been identified so far.
These spiders grow up to a size o f4 to 5mm and have spectacular colors that shimmer. Their size is so small that almost 10 spiders can fit on your fingernail. You’ll find them in red, blue and green colors. Usually the area of the head and breast is dark in color with red stripes, the upper area of the abdomen is found in red, blue and green colors. Why it got its name peacock spider? Not just these spiders have inspiring colors like that of a male peacock but also they have a colorful flap or cape around the abdomen which the male spiders raise to attract female spiders.
In the past this spider was also called “gliding spider” and it was believed that the flap helped them to fly in the air. It was only found out recently that this spectacular flap is used for the mating ritual only. Normally, the flap remains closed and attached to the abdomen but as soon as the male spider lays his bulging eyes on a female mate the spider spreads its cape and waves it with the help of its third pair of legs, in order to grab her attention. The male spider constantly vibrates his abdomen to move the raised flaps and dances from one side to another, and slowly approaches the female while dancing.
There is not just one female spider that is attracted, but the spider repeats his mating dance over and over again because it has the capacity to mate with several females at one time. The more females it can impress the more chances there would be for the continuation of its species. The rule of nature applies to these spiders as well where the fastest and the fittest have the highest chances for passing on their genes, successfully.
However, if they somehow fail to impress their female mates, then the male spider serves as food for her. Scary, isn’t it? Dr. Jurgen Otto an Entomologist from Australian Institute of Marine Science explains, “If he’s not doing the right thing, the female might think he’s not the right partner”.
These creatures are so small that it would be almost impossible to view their mating dance without a microscope. The first person to discover this amazing creature was Octavius Pickard-Cambridge in the 19th Century. He states, “it is difficult to describe adequately the great beauty of the colouring of this spider”.
Some of the other species of this spider are Maratus Speciosus, Maratus harrisi, Maratus linnaei, Maratus mungaich, maratus amabilis, Maratus Splendens, Maratus Verpertilio and Darlington’s peacock spider. Maratus speciosus is also known by the name of Coastal peacock spider and is recently named as Saitis specious. It has orange colored hair which is only visible when the spider performs its courtship dance. This specie is commonly found in Perth metropolitan.
The specie Maratus harrisi was first captured by camera by Stuart Harris in December 2008, but for a detailed scientific description another specimen was required which was found after 3 years and now it is displayed at the Australian Museum. This specie is named after the photographer Stuart Harris, in order to honor him. These species are present at Booroomba Rocks, Canberra.
Maratus Verpertilio, well known specie of the peacock spider is famous for their flashing stomachs when they are having fights with other spiders.
When it comes to catching their prey these small creatures have sharp eyesight and their rapid movements help them to quickly pounce on their prey. Unlike other spiders these species do not catch their prey by making webs.
Dr. Otto also made researches about the spider’s behavior; he states, “The behaviour of this species does in a way remind me of a dog”, he adds, “You can see how the spider gets excited. You can see when it gets frightened and wants to run away. You can see all these emotions that the spider has.”
Although, arachnophobia also known as spider phobia is very common all over the world, but peacock spider may get successful in grabbing attention of the people having this phobia.