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8 superlative spiders

By: Matt Hickman on Oct. 2, 2013, 1:53 p.m.
Peacock spider

Photo: Jurgen Otto/Flickr

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Peacock spider (Maratus volans)

While we gave props to the bold jumping spider for its remarkable leaping abilities, another species of jumping spider wins top honors in the best-dressed (and sexy moves) department: the peacock spider. It’s actually the male peacock spider that’s dramatically gussied up with vividly colored, tail-like flaps that extend from his abdomen. Naturally, this burst of brilliant color is employed by the male when trying to impress an eligible lady-spider – he shakes his dazzling flaps, vibrates his abdomen, waves his legs and does a little shimmy from side to side. Entomologist Jürgen Otto explains what drew him to study this rare (they only live in parts of southern Australia) and tiny (most are around an eighth of an inch long) booty-shaking flash dancer: “I realize that they are colorful, but to me, that is not the most important aspect, since I am partially colorblind. It is the fact that they perform some complex rituals on a scale at which it appears almost surreal, to the point where it is hard to believe.”