Meet Sparklemuffin and Skeletorus, Two New Spider Species

Not only are these two newly-discovered spiders beautifully patterned, they’re also known for their elaborate courtship dances, earning them the hilarious and memorable names ‘Sparklemuffin’ and ‘Skeletorus.’ Researchers found the two new species in southeast Queensland, Australia. Members of the ‘peacock’ family of spiders, the striking specimens were photographed by UC Berkeley graduate student Madeline Girard.

While Sparklemuffin looks similar to three previously discovered species, Skeletorus is truly unique, looking dramatically different from all other peacock spiders known to date. After their first identification in the 1800s, nearly 100 years passed in which nobody paid particular attention to peacock spiders. Entomologist Jürgen Otto began photographing the arachnids and their courtship displays.

When the males are looking to catch a female’s attention, they display a flap-like body part covered in transverse stripes, and seductively show off their legs. Otto compares the motions to human males flexing to show off their muscles.

“Despite the large number of species we have discovered just in the last few years, I can’t help feeling that we may have just scratched the surface on this most exciting group of spiders, and that nature has quite a few more surprises in store,” Otto told LiveScience.

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