Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Peacock spiders: scientist finds seven new species.... Watch the video Cubs, they're cute and they dance

A scientist with a passion for peacock spiders – only a couple of millimetres long, extraordinarily colourful and “like dogs or cats” in their behaviour – has discovered seven new species.
Jürgen Otto, a biologist from Sydney, has been researching the arachnids since 2005, and has gained a significant following online with his footage. He first came across one while walking in the Ku-ring-gai Chase national park, north of Sydney.
“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.”
A paper Otto co-wrote about the discovery of seven new species from Western Australia and South Australia was published in the international jumping spider journal Peckhamia on Sunday. He believes there are now 48 confirmed species of peacock spider within the Maratus genus, found across Australia but particularly in Western Australia – and many more awaiting confirmation.

The spiders are between three and five millimetres long and belong to the jumping spider family, which has tens of thousands of members. With their large eyes and almost mammalian characteristics, they look and behave differently to other spiders.
Their bright colors and patterns form a key part of courtship rituals, as with peacocks and birds-of-paradise.

Maratus vultus
Maratus vultus, one of the new species discovered by Jürgen Otto. Photograph: Jürgen Otto

“They’re fairly cute, which is why people are attracted to them,” Otto said.
“They behave very differently to how people think a spider does ... they behave more like cats and dogs, moving around, perceiving and reacting to their environment.”
Otto maintains a Facebook page dedicated to the colourful arachnid, which has more than 61,000 followers. He also posts videos to his YouTube channel; one video has 5.4m views.
“For me, it’s important to document all of these spiders and their behaviour ... I just wanted there to be a public record.”
He has dedicated a spare bedroom to his “spider work”.
“I wish it was larger, but it’s not ... this hobby sort of consumes everything.”
Otto’s day job is national mite expert for the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
“By comparison to mites, these spiders are actually quite large,” he said. “It’s all relative.
“If you know what you’re looking for, you can find them. But I have to be careful not to lose them – particularly the babies – and not to squash them.”
Otto continues his exploration with one eye on the ground at all times and is determined to identify every species of  Peacock spider and educate us about these tiny inhabitants of our planet.


  1. Aunt Jeannie , we had lots of fun and laughs watching the peacock spiders , they are so cute, Sha said they remind her of Man doing his Nanook dance , poppa taught him how to stick his butt in the air and shake it . Poppa is so funny .
    most all male specimens is prettier than the female , they have lots of pretty color . Sha said they had to dance around to win the female love .
    We asked daddy did he shake his butt and dance for mama to win her love , poppa and uncle Harvey laugh so loud , poppa said , your daddy is still sticking his butt in the air and shaking it at your mama , poppa said that is why your daddy stay in trouble . Poppa is so funny but he is smart too .
    We all think they are so pretty , man will destroy them the first chance they get .
    Everyone sends their love to you hoping you are feeling better . sit in the garden the nice weather will make you feel better . Hope uncle Brian and Nana is enjoying the nice weather .
    We are out of school now , the summer will go fast . We help Eloise make dinner , we love when school is out , we think up lots of different salads . we picked tomatoes this morning , aunt Jeannie , the people that take care of planting the garden , let us help . Uncle Chris plants and take care of his watermelons .
    Aunt Jeannie , we did not know of the peacock spiders , we think you so very much .
    We think of you all the time , we ask mama and poppa how you are doing . Thank you so very much and we love you .
    Man said Hug Hug Kiss Kiss By By .
    Wrote by Jenny

  2. Hi Jenny
    I thought they were cute also. Not so cute that I would want them for pets but they helped me with my phobia about spiders. I usually hate spiders. However, these guys have four eyes. I don't really trust creatures with four eyes.
    I would love to see the Nanook dance. It sounds like fun. But not Daddy shaking his butt at Mama (yuck). Poppa is so very funny, but I have never let that fool me. I always knew he was smart as a whip.
    I never imagined that spiders could be such pretty colors. I always picture them as black or grey. They make me shudder. Uncle Brian picks them up by a leg and puts them outside. We don't like to kill things if we don't have to. But last year a spider got in our house that was so huge, it even scared Uncle Brian. I have never see a spider that big. He didn't want to pick it up. I was so grossed out that I threw paper towels on top of it to confuse it. When you do that, they don't know which direction to run in. And then I jumped on the towels and stomped all over it and killed it. I just didn't want it to be set free to come into my house again. That would give me nightmares. I realize we need spiders to help control the insects and you are right, human beings have a way of destroying species they have never even heard of. I hope the little peacock spiders continue to flourish.

    Summer is a great time. We love all the farm fresh veggies and fruit. Jakey lives on a big farm now with lots of land and he is planting vegetables and strawberries. He says we can have all we want. I hope you guys think up some fun things to do this summer and have a wonderful time. I think of my cubs often and hope you are all happy and very healthy. Jakey showed me another interesting animal. I put a post about it at the top. Maybe I will find some more this summer for you to enjoy.
    Lots of love always to my cubs and a big wet kiss for Man.
    Aunt Jeannie.


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