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07/06/2016, 16:30

Peacock Spiders Behave Like Cats and Dogs

Multicolored arachnids that behave like cats and dogs have been discovered by a biologist from Sydney.

Jurgen Otto came across the seven new species of peacock spiders in the Western and South Australia.

Otto started studying peacock spiders in 2005, when he almost accidentally stepped on one while walking in the Ku-ring-gai Chase national park, north of Sydney.

Peacock spiders (genus Maratus) are only a few millimeters long. The biggest of them is just about the size of a pencil eraser.

They are known for their fascinating colors that resemble peacocks, thus their name, as well as their distinctive mating rituals.

To win over female mates, male peacock spiders perform a dance ritual that involves leg clapping and shaking.

In 2013, Otto was able to document the dance ritual, a move that has never been done by anyone before.
In an interview with Live Science, Otto shared that being color blind, he does not see their magnificent color as their most important aspect, rather their complex behavior.

Explaining this, he told Live Science that complex behaviors are often associated with vertebrates, so the fact that arachnids display them is quite amazing.

He said he loves how the peacock spider reacts to their environment, sharing that some people call them "kittens with too many legs," because of the mammalian characteristics they possess, as well as for their huge seemingly googly eyes and the way to interact with their environment.

In a separate interview with The Guardian, he explained: "They behave very differently to how people think a spider does ... they behave more like cats and dogs, moving around, perceiving and reacting to their environment."

Peacock spiders belong to the jumping spider family that has tens of thousands of members. According to Otto, there are about 48 confirmed species of peacock spiders within Maratus genus found across Australia but particularly in Western Australia.

The discovery was published in journal Peckhamia. 

Otto has a Facebook page with more than 61,000 followers and a YouTube channel, both dedicated to the colorful arachnids.

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