|Courtship rituals in M. volans.|
(O. P-Cambridge, 1874)
Maratus volans, sometimes called the peacock spider or gliding spider, is a species of jumping spider.
Octavius Pickard-Cambridge, who is credited with the first formal biological description and hence is noted as the person assigning it its binomial name (he originally named it Salticus volans; its name was changed to Maratus volans by Marek Zabka in 1991), wrote in his first description of it that "it is difficult to describe adequately the great beauty of the colouring of this spider".
The red, blue and black colored males have flap-like extensions of the abdomen with white hairs that can be folded down. They are used for display during mating: the male raises his abdomen, then expands and raises the flaps so that the abdomen forms a white-fringed, circular field of color. The species, and indeed the whole genus Maratus have been compared to peacocks in this respect. The third pair of legs is also raised for display, showing a brush of black hairs and white tips. While approaching the female, the male will vibrate his abdomen while waving raised legs and tail, and dance from side to side.
Both sexes reach about 5 mm in body length. Females and immatures of both sexes are brown but have colour patterns by which they can be distinguished from related species
This species of spider is not poisonous and poses no threat to humans or animals.
The species name—volans—means "flying" in Latin, because in his description of them O.P-Cambridge indicated that the person who sent him the specimens from New South Wales had told him that he had seen the spiders "actually using [the flaps] as wings or supporters to sustain the length of their leaps." This belief has been debunked by the Australasian Arachnological Society. Nevertheless, the designation "volans" remains.
While the courtship dance is similar to those of genus Saitis (the European S. barbipes also uses its third pair of legs for display), the two genera are unlikely closely related.
- Waldock, Julianne M. (20 November 2008). "What's in a name? Or: why Maratus volans" (Salticidae) cannot fly". www.australasian-arachnology.org. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
- Pickford-Cambridge, Octavius (1874). "On some new genera and species of araneidea". Annals and Magazine of Natural History. Fourth series (London: Taylor & Francis) 14 (81): 160–182. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
- Platnick 2009
- Saitis barbipes - a European jumping spider bearing superficial similarities, but likely no close phylogenetic relationship
- Ed Nieuwenhuys: Peacock spider
- Platnick, Norman I. (2009): The world spider catalog, version 9.5. American Museum of Natural History.
- David Edwin Hill 2009: "Euophryine jumping spiders that extend their third legs during courtship (Araneaee: Salticidia: Euophryinae: Maratus, Saitis)". Peckhamia 74(1): 1-27.
- Jurgen C Otto and David E Hill 2011: "An illustrated review of the known peacock spiders of the genus Maratus from Australia, with description of a new species (Araneae: Salticidae: Euophryinae)." Peckhamia 96.1: 1-27.
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