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Can a spider be a social media influencer? This one is. The Australian peacock spider—named after a colorful flap that resembles a peacock’s fan—is currently experiencing its moment in the spotlight, all thanks to the internet. There were only seven identified species until 2011, when a video of one went viral and led to a flurry of interest and new discoveries. Now there are closer to 100. Good luck picking a favorite.
RANGE Almost all species are found in the southern half of Australia, while one lives in China
SIZE About 1/16"–1/4" long
DIET Insects, other spiders
ABDOMEN In most species, males sport an opisthosomal flap with vibrant, elaborate patterns, which they unfold during their mating rituals.
EYES The spiders’ eyes can perceive the full spectrum of color, including ultraviolet light—useful for hunting and observing mates’ showy displays.
BODY Peacock spiders are covered in fuzz that gives them their bright hues.
LEGS Thanks to powerful legs with an internal hydraulic system, these spiders can jump up to 40 times their body length to attack prey or avoid predators.
At around 1/4" long, Maratus sarahae (shown here) is one of the largest species.
While each peacock spider species is physically distinct, scientists rely on their unique mating dances to distinguish between them. During these rituals, which can last nearly an hour, the spider uses vibrations—including one type known as rumble-rumps—and visual clues to attract the female. If the female isn’t pleased, she may kill the male.
Just a fraction of the known species of peacock spider