They’re known for their striking colors and fancy footwork, but the males of a new species of peacock spider have something else up their sleeves in an attempt to woo the opposite sex: a fabulous hairdo. The little beauty, known as Maratus fimbriatus after the Latin word for “fringe,” is a native of New South Wales, Australia. The spider was discovered by mite biologist Jürgen Otto and his colleague David Hill, and has been described in the open-access journal Peckhamia.
All species of the Maratus arachnids are native to Australia, and due to the males' often stunning colors and extravagant courtship rituals, they have become commonly known as peacock spiders. The critters are typically small, with the new M. fimbriatus only measuring around 4 millimeters in length. In a bid to get the attention of females, many males rely on more than just their dazzling looks. Inflating their silk-spinning organs and flipping them up, they then proceed to do a little dance.
These performances can vary quite a lot between the species, with one particular spider forgoing the ostentatious fan-like abdomen and instead waving his legs above himself and "clapping" as he prances about. M. fimbriatus is more of a traditionalist, flipping his abdomen and scooting from side to side, waving his pompom-like pedipalps as he does so. Set to music, it’s a pretty adorable sight. And if you ever fancy cutting a rug as the little spiders do, the authors even provide a handy guide to the arachnid's dance moves.
Spider dance, move by move. Jurgen Otto & David Hill, 2016
Despite the tremendous frill of hair, M. fimbriatus has another, slightly less obvious feature that sets it apart from the rest. Whereas all peacock spiders so far observed by Otto hold up their third pair of legs when strutting their moves, these new guys instead flash their first pair of legs. According to Otto, this is the only species he knows of that does this, and he should know as he’s been on a mission since 2008 to document as many of the little arachnids as possible.
As if all that wasn’t enough, the shiny middle of the abdomen is also unique among peacock spiders, making the newly described spider a fairly special little guy. If you fancy looking at more photos and videos of many other peacock spiders (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) then check Otto's Facebook page out.
Gif in text: The newly described spider strutting its stuff. Peacockspiderman/YouTube