Seven new species of peacock spiders discovered in Australia

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Australian arachnologist Joseph Schubert discovered seven new species of peacock spiders, two of them in the southeast of the continent, where they had not been seen before. The description of new species was published by the scientific journal Zootaxa, the author of the discovery briefly spoke about this on his Twitter.

“They [peacock spiders] are incredibly tiny, the size of a grain of rice, but each species has its own amazing features. They are found in most of southwestern Australia, but looking for them is a painstaking field work. I spend a lot of time on all fours with a camera and a large lens, zooming in on these tiny creatures,” said Schubert.

Peacock spiders (Maratus) belong to a large family of horse spiders.

The size of adults is 4–5 mm. A distinctive feature of these creatures is pronounced sexual dimorphism, that is, a difference in appearance between females and males. The males of peacock spiders have a brightly colored abdomen, and they are also known for their unusual “dances” during the mating season.

Schubert talks about the last sight he discovered as the most impressive. “This is the most amazing spider I have found – on his abdomen you can see the” Starry Night “by Vincent Van Gogh. That’s why I called it constellatus, which means star in Latin,” the researcher explained.

According to the arachnologist, like most spiders, “peacocks” are poisonous, but their poison is completely harmless to humans, and their size does not allow attacking people.

“They don’t use the web to hunt their prey – flies and moths. They developed a special attack tactic: they sneak up on their victim and then suddenly jump on it, incredibly accurately calculating the length and height of the jump,” Schubert said.

New species differ from each other in the color of the abdomen. They got the name M. constellatus – for the unusual “star” color of the abdomen, M. azureus – for the dark blue color of the abdomen. Schubert named two more species in honor of the places where he found spiders: M. inaquous – for a waterless habitat – and M. noggerup – in honor of a toponym, next to which the scientist found a spider. M. laurenae got its name in honor of a colleague of an arachnologist, M. suae – in honor of the man who found this species of spiders; M. volpei – in honor of another scientist who collected spiders of this species.


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