Male spiders will do a lot for the loving attention of a female. The famous peacock spider has quite the demonstration. He sways, struts, bobs, shudders, waves his arms, and exposes his brightly colored rear to lure in the ladies.
These fabulously colored and patterned spiders, found in Australia, have made millions coo at their adorable fluffy bodies and awkward dance moves. The peacock spider, of the genus Maratus, has gleaned many fanatics, attracting the likes of a West Australian swimwear designer—who used the spider’s coloring as inspiration when designing bikini bottoms—and Star Wars fans who have even changed the peacock spider courtship dance into an amazing lightsaber wielding performance.
It all started when mite biologist for Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Jürgen Otto (also known as the “peacock spider-man”), posted stunning footage and photographs of the cute arachnids.
“It’s a very flamboyant species,” Otto told the Sydney Morning Herald.
While they can easily fit on the nail of your thumb (measuring four to five millimeters), males put on a massive display for their body size. Other spiders, such as the closely related jumping spider, have intricate courtship dances, but the peacock spider’s moves are “among the gaudiest and most complex ever discovered,” National Geographic reports.
The male will first try to catch a nearby female’s attention by sending vibrations through the ground—a move scientists have named the “grind-rev” and “rumble-rump.” If he strikes her fancy, the male will flip up his flashy, iridescent abdomen and wave his super long and specially colored arms, bobbing back and forth in a crab-walk manner.
But for a male to perform this elaborate parade of courtship displays is a major risk. If the female isn’t impressed, the tiny dancing male may become her dinner. Otto has filmed females, which are about twice as large as the males, pouncing and gobbling up a male who was unsuccessful at his mating display.
At the three-minute mark, you can see the species Maratus amabilis (“amabilis” means lovely) slowly crawl from under a twig, approaching the mottled brown female. Then, he climbs on top of her, every move gentle and with extreme caution. Luckily, the male Maratus amabilis in the clip is more than successful in seducing females with his vibratory movements and arm waves.
“Coming across a group of organisms that are colorful and cute, enigmatic and have never been documented before,” Otto told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s like finding the birds of paradise.”
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