Maratus sceletus , nickname "Skeletorus"
In 2013 PhD student Madeline (Maddie) Girard from Berkeley in California and her Sydney friend Eddie Aloise King discovered this new species of peacock spider in southern Queensland. At the time it was undescribed and they found a single male only, no female, and both Maddie and I offered him every possible Maratus female we had at the time to elicit a romantic response. We have done it plenty of times, Maratus males are usually not that choosy. However, no luck here. He just would not display and died a lonely death. We have been wondering whether perhaps the female of this species would look different from all the other ones. and even the thought that it may not be a peacock spider at all crossed my mind. At the end of July though I travelled to the locality where Maddie and Eddie found him and managed not only to locate more male individuals but also to track down the elusive females that finally worked. You can see in the photographs that the male extends his spinnerets during the display similar to Maratus calcitrans and Maratus digitatus, and I am convinced now that this species is a close relative. Intriguing about this species is not only the black and white pattern, he is also the only Maratus I know that has a 'nose'. This new species makes me wonder how many more designs are out there, still undiscovered. Many thanks to Maddie for bringing this species to my attention, letting me play with the only individual we had at the time, and sharing with me the location.
Here is a little clip of this spider's courtship dance,
David Hill and I described this new species and named it Maratus sceletus. If you are interested in the description you can download 121.1 from the Peckhamia website
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