Peacock Spiders
A male of Maratus caeruleus. Facebook/Peacock Spider/Jürgen Otto

Sydney biologist Jürgen Otto, who is extremely passionate about Australian peacock spiders, has discovered seven new species and has gained a significant online following with his footage. The scientist has a Facebook page dedicated to the colourful “fairly cute” creatures. Otto says that the arachnids behave like dogs and cats. Peacock spiders are incredibly colourful and are only a couple of millimetres long.

Otto has been researching the spiders since 2005. He first came across the beautiful creature while walking in the Ku-ring-gai Chase national park, north of Sydney. The paper Otto co-wrote, about his discovery of the seven new species from South and West Australia, was published in the international jumping spider journal Peckhamia on Sunday.

He said that within the Maratus genus, there are now 48 confirmed species of peacock spiders found across Australia but particularly in Western Australia. Many more are awaiting confirmation. Peacock spiders belong to the jumping spider family that has tens of thousands of members. They are generally between three and five millimetres and behave differently to other spiders. They also have mammalian characteristics and large eyes.

Just like peacocks and other birds-of-paradise, peacock spiders’ bright patterns and colours form an important part of courtship rituals. Otto said that these spiders behave very much like dogs and cats as move around. They perceive and react to their environment. This makes them different from other spiders. Many people are attracted to these spiders because they are beautiful.

“I’m always looking on the ground when I walk around, mostly for mites and other small things, and I almost stepped on this little spider. That’s what started my passion,” Otto told The Guardian.

Otto’s Facebook page, dedicated to these spiders, has more than 63,000 followers. He also regularly posts on his YouTube channel and most of his videos receive exceptional views.

Source: YouTube/Peacockspiderman