Tuesday 10 March 2015

Two new species of Peacock Spider from southern Queensland.

Peacock Spiders, Maratus, are Jumping Spiders, Salticidae, endemic to Australia and distinguished by the bright colours and elaborate courtship dances of the males. The calcitrans group of Peacock Spiders currently comprises three members of the genus from eastern Australia which perform an elaborate dance in which the either the spinarets are inflated during the male courtship dance, or have elaborate plumes which can be erected, and the abdomen has bold transverse stripes. The male rotates its abdomen during the courtship dance, at the same time holding one third leg extended.

In a paper published in the journal Peckhamia on 20 January 2015, Jürgen Otto of St. Ives in New South Wales and David Hill of Simpsonville, South Carolina, describe two new species of Peacock Spiders in the calcitrans group from the Wondul Range National Park in southern Queensland.

The first new species is named Maratus jactatus, meaning ‘rocking’ or ‘jolting’ in reference to its courtship dance, which involves the male rocking rapidly from side to side. Adult males range from 4.5-4.6 mm in length, and have a black base colour with numerous white hairs, red and grey markings on the head and bands on the abdomen in blue-green or iridescent blue and red-orange or orange.

Male Maratus jactatus in lateral view. Otto & Hill (2015).

Adult females range from 5.0-5.3 mm in length, and are dark brown in colour with numerous grey hairs. Juveniles are similar in colour to the females, but with bolder markings, the males developing dark bands on their abdomen during the penultimate instar.

Female Maratus jactatus, with one of her recently emerged second instar offspring. Otto & Hill (2015).

The second new species described is named Maratus sceletus, in reference to the skeleton-like colouration of the male. Adult males range from 3.7-4.2 mm in length, and have a distinctive black colouration with white bands, resembling a cartoon skeleton.

Male Maratus sceletus in lateral view. Otto & Hill (2015).

Adult females range from 5.0-5.3 mm in length, and are light brown to translucent brown with darker markings. Juveniles resemble females, though the pigmentation develops first on the eye region, with the rest of the body being translucent in younger instars.

Female Maratus sceletus in lateral view. Otto & Hill (2015).

See also…

In 1938 Jean-Louis Fage of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris described a new species of Goblin Spider (tiny Spiders generally found living in soil or leaf litter) from a single male specimen from the collection of the Natural History Museum of Vienna...

The Canary Islands are a group of volcanic islands in the northeast Atlantic, approximately 110 km off the coast of Morocco. They are true oceanic islands, never having been connected to a continent, and started to form in the Miocene about 22 million years ago...

Crab Spiders of the genus Mystaria are found in Africa from Guinea in the west to Ethiopia in the east and south to Cape Province in South Africa. They are ambush hunters, lying in wait for prey on plants in a wide variety of environments, from forest canopies...

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