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Dinner Date


The male peacock spider performs a spectacular dance to attract a mate—but the female is not always impressed.

The coastal peacock spider (Maratus speciosus) can be found in a range of habitats around Perth in Western Australia. Both females and males are about 4.5 mm long, but whereas the female is a drab brown color, the male sports brilliant markings. To attract a mate, the male performs an elaborate courtship dance. For this spider, the dance involves throwing up in the air the third pair of legs and the abdomen shield, which is covered in iridescent scales. It also spreads out bright orange hair-like structures, or setae, that are normally hidden under the shield. All through the dance, the prospective dad keeps his eyes fixed on the female—and for good reason. If she happens to be hungry or has mated before, she might easily turn her unwanted suitor into dinner.

Image courtesy of Jürgen Otto, PhD, jurgenotto@optusnet.com.au


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