Scientists Discover Two New Species Of Peacock Spiders In Australia

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A spider sits on her web
Two new species of peacock spiders have been found in Australia. The spiders belong to the genus Maratus which is a part of the jumping spider family called Salticidae, and are colourful and active and it was reported that in the 1950s, one of the species would use its colourful display to attract potential mates. A spider sits on her web in a garden in the village of Klein-Auheim near Hanau August 11, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Two new species of peacock spiders have been found in Australia. The spiders belong to the genus Maratus, which is a part of the jumping spider family called Salticidae. It is colourful and active. It was reported that in the 1950s, one of the species would use its colourful display to attract potential mates. The spiders were found in Wondul Range National Park in southeast Queensland by Madeline Girard, a graduate student from the University of Berkley. The findings were published in a journal called Peckhamia.

According to Sci-News, the two peacock spiders had been named Maratus jactatus and Maratus sceletus and measured between 4 to 6 millimetres in length. The two spiders have been nicknamed Sparklemuffin and Skeletorus, respectively. The genus contained about 30 species and were said to be endemic to Australia.

The word "jactatus" meant rocking in Latin and the name Maratus jactatus was given to the spider with reference to its rapid lateral rocking during courtship. The word "sceletus" meant skeleton which is in reference to the skeleton-like appearance of the male peacock spider. 

A film of the behaviour of the spiders was captured by Jurgen Otto, a scientist from Sydney, in 2008, reported Business Insider. He met Gerard to take a look at Skeletorus.

Otto said that Skeletorus looked different from other peacock spiders because of which he thought that the group was diverse. He said that it took him a year to find more spiders like Skeletorus, and when he came across it, he was amazed. He posted regular updates on his Facebook page and also on his YouTube channel called Peacockspiderman

Otto came across his first peacock spider, Maratus volans, in a national park called the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park close to Sydney in 2005. He said that it had crossed his path and he nearly stepped on the spider. He explained that he was intrigued by the colouration and swift movements of the spider and he went back every couple of weeks to the same spot to see if he could find another.

He came across the next peacock spider three years later. When he found the other spider, he tested a theory which suggested that the wings on the back of the spider were for displaying mateship.

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