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.
Dr David Penney, from the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, a.k.a. Spider Dave, has used Very High Resolution X-Ray Computed Tomography to dissect a 1mm spider that has been preserved in amber for 53 MY. Amazing pictures. The spider is a male. How can you tell?
BBC news item; original Zootaxa article (open access).
Quiz answer – highlight this line: Male spiders have little bobbles on the end of their palps; they use them to transfer sperm (don’t ask).
You might think that inner cities have very little in the way of wildlife, and certainly nothing left to discover. You’d be wrong. A survey of spider biodiversity in Antwerp has unearthed a new species of Tangleweb spider.
BBC picture of the spider; Antwerp Spider Research Project page.
Well, that’s how the intro song goes on this video. Probably aimed at my kids rather than you lot, but then, so’s Spongebob Squarepants, which doesn’t stop you watching it. Those of you who’ve done the Evolution of Animals course will know that Whip Scorpions aren’t scorpions. Or spiders. They are whip scorpions (Amblypiga). You may have seen them in Belize… Cool footage of Eben Gering’s studies of amblypigid behaviour.
Some spiders fluoresce, it appears. We have a huge collection of spiders in the Museum, and a world expert on them, in the person of Dmitri Lugunov. Any 2nd year or Placement student interested in this might want to think about doing a survey of which groups of spiders fluoresce, and why…