Monday, 13 August 2018

Two new peacock spiders identified in Western Australia

Biologist Jürgen Otto and colleagues have named two species of the extraordinarily colourful dancing spiders

Sat 21 Jul 2018 23.14 BSTLast modified on Sun 22 Jul 2018 03.25 BST

It is only a few millimetres in size, performs a dance as part of a courtship ritual and has striking coloured markings on its back that “look like a pharaoh’s headdress”.

But when biologist Jürgen Otto first spotted the peacock spider species he has named Maratus unicup, he didn’t immediately recognise how special it was.

“I didn’t think much of it because I’m partially colour blind,” he says. “But there was quite a reaction to photographs of it on the internet, with people saying it’s beautiful.”

Otto discovered the spider near Lake Unicup in Western Australia last year. He said the new species was notable for its courtship display in which the male dances – swinging its abdomen from side to side – while the female watches from a close distance.

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