Peacock Spider Mating Dance

The Peacock Spider is a tiny arachnid which lives in parts of Eastern Australia. Sharp-eyed entomologist Jurgen Otto was out on a walk and found an area which seemed to be a favorite habitat for the species. A patient soul, Otto got some good-quality video of the courtship of the tiny jumping spiders:

The Peacock Spider (Maratus volans)

Part Two, complete with musical accompaniment and a Happy Ending:

Notice how the pedipalps seem to convey excitement and interest in both brilliantly-colored male and drab female. It’s difficult to avoid anthropomorphizing these little creatures.




Filed under Natural History, Visual Arts

8 responses to “Peacock Spider Mating Dance

  1. bev

    Fun video clips! Great little jumping spider. I like how those colorful little flaps unfold away from the abdomen. I can’t recall seeing other species that have that type of appendage.

  2. Jurgen Otto’s Flickr page has some great still shots of the undescribed species:

    Jurgen Otto

  3. bev

    Thanks, Larry. It is such a beautiful spider. I have photographed many jumping spiders over the years. It would be exciting to see one like that!

  4. John Harshman

    Thanks, Larry. That was so cool. I suppose it’s the big eyes that make jumping spiders so cool, but the excitable pedipalps help too.

    Speaking of birds (weren’t we?), everybody knows about bird of paradise courtship dances, but manakins are even more fun. Googling “manakin courtship” finds plenty of video.

  5. In your second paragraph, John, I misread “manakin” as “mannikin” — which led me to all sorts of wild speculations as to your current interests. Somehow I just didn’t want to see dancing mannikins courting — some sort of perverse Japanese weirdness, perhaps?

    Oh, “manakins”! I’d never heard the name and I was amused to see this statement on the Wikipedia page:

    “The name is from Middle Dutch mannekijn ‘little man’…”

    • John Harshman

      There actually are other birds called mannikins (spelled that way), but they don’t dance as well. I’ve seen manakins in Belize, but never seen them dance. Mannikins, on the other hand, are native to Asia (they’re estrildid finches), and some species have been introduced to southern California and Hawaii, so I’ve seen those too.

      While on the subject of bird dances, I presume you’ve seen videos of great crested grebes. They remind me of Snoopy’s happy dance.

  6. No, I’ve never seen the mating dance of a Great Crested Grebe, but I probably will now that you’ve brought it up.

    I wonder if the Great Bustard has a notable mating display? I sometimes think of the Bustard as the European equivalent of North America’s Wild Turkey. I’ve seen some incredible turkey behavior during mating season.

    • John Harshman

      While great crested grebes are great, as well as crested, I was actually thinking of western/Clarke’s grebe. Slip of the brain.

      Bustards do interesting displays too, though I’ve never seen one live, but they don’t do much of a dance, just stand there shaking their stuff. Rather like peacocks, that way.

      And how about prairie chickens? They do a nice dance. I can actually reproduce it fairly well.

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