Animal researchers spend much of their time outdoors as they explore the world in the name of science. That said, it may not come of as much of a surprise to anyone in the field that so many novel animal species are constantly being identified and added to the books.
Among the latest of newly recognized animal species to be identified are seven new variants of the rather conspicuous peacock spider. The findings are now published in the journal Zootaxa by a knowledgeable arachnid expert named Joseph Schubert.
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All seven of the newfound peacock spider variants belong to the Maratus genus, and have been named as such: Maratus azureus, Maratus constellatus, Maratus inaquosus, Maratus laurenae, Maratus noggerup, Maratus suae, and Maratus volpei. Each of the aforementioned species reside on the Australian continent, a region that is known for its fascinating biodiversity.
Schubert wasn’t physically responsible for discovering all of the new species, but he was the one who identified them. In fact, it’s not uncommon for local scientists to collaborate with Schubert when they think they’ve found something fascinating in the spider world throughout their ventures.
"A few of the spiders in this paper were named after the people who had discovered them," Schubert explained. "A lot of the species are actually discovered by citizen scientists who'd documented the locality data and taken photos of the spiders and sent images to me. Considering how many peacock spider species have been discovered in the past few years, I certainly think that there are more out there to be found."
There are at least 85 known different species of the peacock spider in the world today, with males from each group sporting a unique pattern on its body that scientists can use to identify it. While they come in several different colors and styles, one thing all the species have in common is that males use their attractive patterns in tandem with a peculiar dance to attract female mates.
In most cases, the dance involves raising the third row of legs and waving their colorful abdomens in the air. The appearance of this display is reminiscent of the way a peacock (bird) raises its colorful feathers in an attempt to woo mates, hence the name of this particular arachnid.
Given just how many different types of peacock spider have been identified to date, Schubert seems certain that there are likely a lot more out there that have yet to be identified. As scientists continue their search, however, it seems clear that more will be brought into the light in due time.