It is only a few millimeters in size, performs a dance as part of a courtship ritual and has striking colored markings on its back that “look like a pharaoh’s headdress,” but when biologist Jurgen Otto first spotted the peacock spider species that he has named Maratus unicup, he did not immediately recognize how special it was.
“I didn’t think much of it because I’m partially color blind, but there was quite a reaction to photographs of it on the Internet, with people saying it’s beautiful,” Otto said.
Maratus unicup is one of two new peacock spider species that Otto and his colleague David Hill have named in a new paper published in the international spider journal Peckhamia
Otto discovered the spider near Lake Unicup in Western Australia last year.
He said the new species was notable for its courtship display, in which the male dances — swinging its abdomen from side to side — while the female watches from a close distance.
The second species they have named Maratus tortus and was discovered by environmental consultant and educator David Knowles in 1994 near Walpole in Western Australia.
Knowles and Otto have returned to the site several times and were finally able to capture specimens of the spider last year.
Knowles had originally nicknamed the species “hokey pokey” because of the male’s curious twisting dance.
“There’s no other peacock spider that has this kind of a display,” Otto said. “It looks almost like a Spanish bullfight, where the female is the bull and the male is the bullfighter.”
In the paper, Otto and Hill say there are now 70 species of peacock spiders, the majority of which have been named by them over the past seven years.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies