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article imagePeacock spider has all the right moves to attract the ladies

By Karen Graham     Aug 4, 2015 in Science
Nine new species of peacock spiders were discovered in areas near the southern coast of Western Australia. One species, Maratus personatus, has the whole world talking. The males have a bright blue mask they use to attract females.
The one species of peacock spider, Maratus personatus (from the Latin, meaning "masked"), or bluemask, is so small it is easy to overlook on the rocky ground where it is found.
While the biggest peacock spider only reaches about 0.3 inches (about the size of a pencil eraser) in size, they still pack a big punch. Like almost all spiders, Maratus spiders are venomous. But they aren't that dangerous to humans because their little jaws would have trouble piercing our skin.
Even though we are safe, they have no problem making a meal of crickets and other insects and spiders. Peacock spiders are jumping spiders, and like all jumping spiders, they don't build nests. Instead, they stalk their prey like a lion in the bush, and when the time comes, they pounce, taking down prey three to four times their size.
The blueface spider's dance moves make him a standout
When Jürgen C. Otto, a mite biologist at the Australian Department of Agriculture in Sydney was looking around in Cape Riche, east of Albany, he found several specimens of M. personatus. What made this species unusual was the very prominent mask of deep blue scales covering the face of adult males.
After studying the bluemask, it was found that during courtship, the adult male does not have a fan-like abdomen that other male spiders display while courting a female. M. personatus relies on its striking blue mask with its distinctive white bands around it, to bring in the ladies.
It is the male's courtship dance that is so very interesting, and alluring to the females of the species. The spider raises his flaps and waves a single leg, a sort of "Yoo hoo" to the female. CBS News has described its moves as “kind of like a sexy arachnid Hokey Pokey,” while Discovery.com said the spider had “sick dance moves.”
Most Internet viewers who have seen the spider's dance video say M. personatus is really cute. One viewer said, "This little guy needs a hug! So cute." See what you think.
More about peacock spider, Australia, Dance, bluemasks, Maratus personatus
 
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