The Austrialian peacock spider goes viral

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.

Colorful spider on iPhone screen

Maratus speciosus

Peacock spider

GENUS Maratus

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.

Colorful spider on fingertip

At around 1/4" long, Maratus sarahae (shown here) is one of the largest species.


Colorful spider facing mate on branch

May I have this dance?

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.

Strike a pose

Just a fraction of the known species of peacock spider

Colorful spider

Maratus unicup

Colorful spider

M. avibus

Colorful spider

M. chrysomelas

Colorful spider

M. purcellae

Colorful spider

M. literatus

Colorful spider

M. amabilis

Colorful spider

M. candens

Colorful spider

M. constellatus

Colorful spider

M. fimbriatus

Explore More

World Wildlife magazine provides an inspiring, in-depth look at the connections between animals, people and our planet. Published quarterly by WWF, the magazine helps make you a part of our efforts to solve some of the most pressing issues facing the natural world.

View all issues