Two new species of peacock spiders — which have been dubbed “Skeletorus” and”Sparklemuffin” — have been discovered (and scientifically described) in Australia, according to recent reports.
The two new species of peacock spider were discovered in southeast Queensland by a graduate student at UC Berkeley by the name of Madeline Girard — with help from a friend – while working in the field. The scientific names for the two new species are Maratus jactatus (Sparklemuffin) and Maratus sceletus (Skeletorus).
For those that don’t know — peacock spiders are a group of spiders found in Australia that possess bright peacock-like colors, and elaborate (and bizarre) mating rituals and behaviors. They are really quite strange, even for spiders — which are a much more varied group of animals than you might think. There’s even a ‘vegetarian’ species of spider, believe it or not.
As far as the two new peacock spiders, you should be able to guess which name belongs to which group of images — the names really do seem pretty fitting, despite their flamboyance.
While those that have seen other peacock spiders before are probably noting that Sparklemuffin doesn’t look that different than other species, Skeletorus really is quite distinct — not really resembling any other peacock spiders much.
Co-author of a new report describing the species, the entomologist Jürgen Otto, commented that Maratus sceletus, “looks dramatically different (from) all other peacock spiders known to date, making me think that this group is perhaps much more diverse than we had thought.”
“Despite the large number of species we have discovered just in the last few years, I can’t help feeling that we may have just scratched the surface of this most exciting group of spiders, and that nature has quite a few more surprises in store.”
Given that peacock spiders are quite tiny as compared to the human world that’s really not that surprising. Most people who live in Australia have, for instance, probably never even given a second glance to these creatures. But when seen up close (via photography for instance), they really are quite incredible looking. Lots of ‘personality’ to their faces.
With regard to the mating dance of Skeletorus, Otto commented: “When (the male) got within a few centimeters of the female, he exploded into a firework of activity. The spinnerets were extended and flicked around at an amazing speed, one of the legs was flexed like he wanted to show off his muscles, and he moved constantly from one side of the grass blade to the other.”
Lmao. Spiders (and other small animals/insects) really do seem like they live in a completely different world don’t they? Can you imagine living in a world where these guys are the same size as you (say as a botfly or something)?
Image Credit: Jürgen Otto