Peacock spiders may be deservedly renowned for their flashy flaps that can make any lady weak at her eight knees, but this newly discovered species is showing us you don’t have to be bold to be beautiful.
Belonging to the growing list of 44 jumping spiders in the Maratus genus, this species new to science actually first came to light a few years ago when spider expert David Knowles luckily stumbled upon it. But documenting these teeny tiny dancers is no mean feat, given the fact they are only a few millimeters in length, so it took a while to track it down in order to confirm its classification as a new species.
In the end, our resident peacock spider man Jürgen Otto came to the rescue, and we can thank him for the glorious collection of photographs he captured, which you can view on his Flickr page.
As you can see, males don a rather seductive blue mask in order to entice potential lady friends. This striking feature served as inspiration for their species name, M. personatus, which is derived from the Latin word for masked, New Scientist reports.
Jürgen Otto, via Flickr.
While peacock spiders may have earned their fame from the almost psychedelic fans worn by many, there are actually quite a few lacking these dazzling disks, Otto tells IFLScience. Although, he adds, when he first saw the photos from Knowles, he assumed that perhaps the opisthosoma (abdomen) was simply not raised or displayed in the images. But for Otto, the absence of a fan does not detract from its beauty.
“The most spectacular aspect… is of course the blue face, absolutely stunning if you ask me, and since I first saw images of it it was top of my list to document, I am glad I found it in the end,” he says, adding that he thinks the blue is a nice contrast with the white stripe above. We think so too.
So once the male lures in a potential mate with his groovy ninja mask, what's next? Of course, it’s time to bust out the moves.
GIF from YouTube video. Peacockspiderman.
As described in Peckhamia, during the courtship display, males lift and wave their third pair of legs around, either one at a time or in sync, but they never raise their abdomens. They also side step and give their pedipalps – head appendages – an adorable little wiggle. You can check them out in action here:
Chris Plante from The Verge thinks this warrants their classification as the world’s cutest spider; both Otto and I agree, hands down.
Gif from YouTube video. Peacockspiderman.
Amazingly, one of the females Otto gathered for his study laid a bunch of eggs, meaning he was able to rear baby M. personatus spiders and document their development as part of his study, and even the little’uns are simply *naaaaaw.*
Jürgen Otto, via Flickr.