These stunning pictures of the Australian Salticid, Maratus volans, were taken by Jurgen Otto and can be found on this Dutch website. Like many Salticids, this tiny jumping spider has a marked sexual dimorphism. Known as the peacock spider, the male – like the bird he is named after – has amazing irridiscent markings.
Courting a female spider is a pretty dangerous business – she is a vicious predator after all, so, as in many salticids, the male M. volans has an elaborate courtship display, in which he uses his brightly coloured abdominal flaps to show off to the female:
The mating display is very reminiscent of another Salticid, Saitis barbipes. Most Salticids, like the zebra spider you can find on ceilings and walls in the UK, have their first pair of legs decorated for use in signalling to the female. In S. barbipes, it’s the third pair.
Salticid mating displays may not only be visual. This YouTube video of a male Salticid courting (he’s much less impressive visually than either the Maratus or the Saitis male), suggests sound might be involved. While this wouldn’t be surprising, it gets so percussive towards the end that I wondered whether it hadn’t been dubbed on later on… What do you think? Does the “hilarious” in the title suggest I’m being conned?
Many thanks to John Altringham’s EZNews (a close relative of the Z-letter) and to Lesley Morrell who spotted the link.