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Peacock Spider - Maratus volans
#1
Peacock Spider - Maratus volans

[Image: marvol_zps19b018ef.jpg]

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Suborder: Araneomorphae
Family: Salticidae
Genus: Maratus
Species: Maratus volans

The Peacock spider or Gliding spider (Maratus volans) is a species of jumping spider.

Description
Octavius Pickard-Cambridge noted in his original description that "it is difficult to describe adequately the great beauty of the colouring of this spider".
The red, blue and black colored males have flap-like extensions of the abdomen with white hairs that can be folded down. They are used for display during mating: the male raises his abdomen, then expands and raises the flaps so that the abdomen forms a white-fringed, circular field of color. The species, and indeed the whole genus Maratus have been compared to peacocks in this respect. The third pair of legs is also raised for display, showing a brush of black hairs and white tips. While approaching the female, the male will vibrate his abdomen while waving raised legs and tail, and dance from side to side.
Both sexes reach about 5 mm in body length. Females and immatures of both sexes are brown but have colour patterns by which they can be distinguished from related species.

[Image: maratus_volans_f5579_zpse5b5d8de.jpg]

Distribution
M. volans is confined to eastern parts of Australia (Queensland, New South Wales).

Name
The species name means "flying" in Latin, because it was at first thought that the flaps help the spider in gliding.

Gliding
A common urban myth is the belief that when the spider is leaping, it can use its flaps to extend the jump and glide short distances through the air. However, this belief has been debunked by the Australasian Arachnological Society.

Relationships
While the courtship dance is similar to those of genus Saitis (the European S. barbipes also uses its third pair of legs for display), the two genera are probably not closely related.

[Image: PeacockSpider3_zps3d3ee294.jpg] 
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#2
The Amazing Mating Dance of the Peacock Spider

By Douglas Main, Staff Writer | August 21, 2013 01:00pm ET

[Image: maratus-volans-2-peacock-spider_zps81c2a026.jpg]
This is the peacock spider Maratus volans. Jürgen Otto was the first to film this spider's mating dance. 

The animal dances and lifts up its tail-flap, which, once unfurled, resembles an abstract Indian blanket of intense color. The tiny creature hops about, lifts up its legs alternately like an air traffic controller, gesturing this way and that. Its large, furry mouthparts almost make it look like it's smiling, or at least mildly amused at this outrageous act.

Meet the peacock spider. Males from several species within this group of spiders put on remarkable mating displays to win over mates of the opposite gender. Jürgen Otto has done perhaps more than anybody else to document and share footage of this arachnid's terrific breeding ritual — it has even won over people who previously hated spiders, Otto told LiveScience. 

For a creature so tiny — most species are around an eighth of an inch (a few millimeters) long — the display is surprisingly complex and visual. Due to their tiny size, and perhaps because they only live in certain areas in Australia, the animals haven't been well-documented. But Otto, an entomologist who usually studies marine mites, is working to change that. LiveScience corresponded with Otto to hear more about his experiences with these remarkable animals.



http://www.livescience.com/39052-peacock-spider-mating-dance.html 
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#3
Female Peacock Spiders Underwhelmed By Disco-Dancing Suitors
Male spiders use complex movement, vibrations, and color to win the ladies over, a new study confirms.


[Image: 01peacockspider.ngsversion.1448979299650...1190.2.jpg]
Male peacock spiders (here, Maratus volans) have to work for their chance to woo females. 

PHOTOGRAPH BY JURGEN OTTO
By Michael Greshko, National Geographic 
PUBLISHED DECEMBER 01, 2015

Earning stage names like Skeletorus and Sparklemuffin, male peacock spiders perform a colorful song and dance nearly unrivaled in the animal kingdom. But a new study shows that their main audience—the females they aim to woo—don’t impress so easily.

The new findings, published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, emphasize the remarkable extent to which males across the animal kingdom compete for the affection of a single female.

Peacock spiders’ recently discovered courtship displays are among the gaudiest and most complex ever discovered, a fact made all the more surprising by their size. The little audiovisual spectacle measures less than a quarter-inch (five millimeters) long.

“The combination of complex mammal-like behaviours, their small size, [and] their color patterns [are] simply irresistible,” says Jürgen Otto, a mite biologist with Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources whose groundbreaking hobby videos first gave peacock spiders a wide human audience. “It is difficult not to get obsessed with them.”

When a male peacock spider thinks he has spotted a female, “the world pretty much disappears,” says Michael Kasumovic of Australia’s University of New South Wales, one of the study’s co-authors. The spider then begins a series of dances—including moves scientists have dubbed the “rumble-rump” and “grind-rev”—that send literal good vibrations through the ground toward the female.

Once he has piqued her interest, the male unfolds a brilliantly colored abdominal flap and then struts back and forth, all the while frantically waving specially colored, lengthy legs.

What a Girl Wants

But it takes two to tango, and researchers didn’t know exactly how females were participating in and responding to the ritual. What were the ladies looking for in a strutting, shivering suitor? And were the males’ bright colors actually related to finding a mate?

To find out, Ph.D. student Madeline Girard of the University of California, Berkeley, traveled to Sydney, Australia, and collected 64 pairs of the peacock spider Maratus volans, each duo consisting of a male and virgin female. Each pair went into what Kasumovic calls a “courtship arena,” an enclosure surrounded by cameras with a floor made of stretched pantyhose.

The homespun setup allowed Girard to detect the vibrational dances and leg-waving movements of M. volans males, while tracking how the females responded.

The team found that females don’t automatically swoon to the males’ advances, instead turning toward or away from them during their initial vibrations, based on interest. Some females also had more aggressive responses, rebuffing males with quick shakes of their abdomens—or worse. “If females don’t like a male, they’ll eat them,” says Kasumovic.

The females liked only 16 of the 64 courtship dances. In these uncommon instances, Girard found that males’ looks were about twice as important as their dance moves, though each plays a slightly different role in piquing and retaining a female’s interest.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that the spiders rely on visuals. Peacock spiders have an excellent sense of vision, honed by a need to stalk and then pounce on prey without the aid of a web.

Researchers praise the study for explicitly proving that “all these male shenanigans have evolved through females preferentially mating with males that display colorful, complex courtship displays,” says Marie Herberstein of Australia’s Macquarie University, who wasn’t involved with the study. “This link is rarely directly established.”

But questions remain. It’s unclear what females are homing in on within the males’ colorful patterns. And how peacock spiders became so showy in the first place remains a mystery. “Did it all start off with the dance and the color followed?” asks Herberstein. ”Or did color, movement and vibration evolve simultaneously?”

What is clear, though, is that when it comes to sex, male peacock spiders have a life-or-death imperative to listen to their partners.

“There’s an amazing amount of control that females have over the entire thing,” says Kasumovic. “If a male doesn’t listen to her feedback, not only will he be unsuccessful—he’s likely going to die.”

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/12/151201-australia-peacock-spider-colorful-courtship-sex-animals-science/ 
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#4
This is one of yhe few spiders where both genders are equal in size.
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