These Australian peacock spiders may be small, but they are also the most spectacular, colorful and cutest spiders in the world. With their ornately-colored bodies, rhythmic pulsations, and booty-shaking dance moves, male peacock spiders attract the attention of female spiders as well as scientists.
The peacock spider puts its left leg up and shakes it all about. It also seems to shimmy, clap and wiggle. Even arachnaphobes can appreciate these dance moves. With their colorful dress, and fabulous song and dance routines, these small peacock spiders have captivated the hearts of the internet.
The Peacock Spiders, or Maratus pavonis, named for their bright colors and dramatic displays, are native to southern Australia, including Tasmania. There are about 20 known species of peacock spiders living in the world, but only 8 have been formally identified.
The greatest attribute of peacock spider is its advanced eyes. Spiders have 8, occasionally 6, eyes, but they are usually quite simple organs, specks of black or silver, with an ability to detect light and dark, movement and shadow and some unclear images, even at low light levels. The two central front eyes of the peacock spider are much more advanced. They have large eyes, equipped with spherical lenses, with an internal focusing system and complex four layered retina. All this means that peacock spider can see fine detail, in color and at different distances.
With clear vision evolved as a predatory weapon, the peacock spiders can see its prey from meters away, creep up and then pounce from a distance of more than 20 times its body length to deliver an instant fatal bite.
Males use vibrations early to gain a females attention. When they are sure she is watching, male peacock spiders start to escalate courtship by showing off their fan and waving their front legs. If the female tries to ignore the male spider, they change their strategy and begin vibrating even more. Female peacock spiders are really picky, and their scrupulous behavior may be linked to the natural selection for the best male.
Peacock spiders are common in bushland areas and domestic gardens, but are very hard to spot because of their small size. They are free ranging throughout leaf-litter and low shrubs, where they prey on the tiny insects that they find in these areas. Peacock spiders are generally active and hunt during daylight. Their well-developed internal hydraulic mechanism extends their limbs by altering the pressure of their body fluid. This allows them to jump without having large and strong legs like a grasshopper.
Peacock spider can jump several times the length of its body. When a peacock spider is moving from place to place, and especially just before jumping, it tethers a filament of silk (or dragline) to whatever it is standing on to protect it if the jump should fail.
Like many other spiders that leave practically continuous silk trails, peacock spiders impregnate the silk line with their pheromones that play a role in social and reproductive communication, and possibly in navigation.