A spider resembling the famous ‘Starry Night’ painting by Vincent van Gogh has been discovered in Australia.
This male, named Maratus constellatus, is no more than four millimeters long and was spotted in Little Desert National Park.
The colorful arachnid is one of seven new species of peacock spiders, small, harmless creatures usually smaller than a grain of rice.
The new species was discovered by Joseph Schubert van Australian museums Victoria, who has studied the peacock spider in recent years.
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A spider resembling the famous ‘Starry Night’ painting by Vincent van Gogh has been discovered in Australia. This male, named Maratus constellatus, is no more than four millimeters long and was spotted in Little Desert National Park
“Last year, I traveled across the country to collect specimens of these new peacock spiders (some discovered by citizen scientists!) And spent countless hours in the lab studying them,” Schubert tweeted on March 26. “Good news in difficult times.”
The little Peacock spiders, or Maratus spiders, are native to Australia and are internet sensations for their elaborate courtship dances.
The spider, which has similar patterns to ‘Starry Night’, is Maratus constellatus and was discovered in Western Australia along with four other colorful species – Maratus azureus, Maratus inaquosus, Maratus laurenae, Maratus volpei, Maratus noggerup and Maratus suae.
Maratus volpei, was discovered in South Australia and Maratus inaquosus was identified in Victoria, bringing the total to seven.
Schubert has described a total of 12 species of Peacock Spiders since 2019, where he discovered five new ones.
The spider, which has similar patterns to ‘Starry Night’, is Maratus constellatus (top right) and was discovered in Western Australia along with four other colorful species – Maratus azureus (second at bottom), Maratus inaquosus (third at bottom) , Maratus volpei (bottom left) Maratus laurenae, Maratus noggerup (top left) and Maratus suae (top center)
The new species was named by spider taxonomist Joseph Schubert (photo)
‘I should say that Maratus constellatus is by far my favorite – it is such a nice looking species, the pattern reminds me of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Plus, I went on a really, really long journey to find it, ”he explained.
The five species that Schubert discovered in 2019 are known as Maratus aquilus, Maratus felinus and Maratus burnus, each recognizable by their distinctive patterns.
The research assistant at Monash University made the discovery with a group of photographers from Project Maratus in Lake Jasper and Mount Romance in southwestern Western Australia.
He says that arachnophobes have no reason to fear creepy critters.
“These little boys are completely harmless! They are about as long as a grain of rice, ‘Schubert tweeted last year.
The five species that Schubert discovered in 2019 are known as Maratus aquilus, Maratus felinus and Maratus burnus, each recognizable by their distinctive patterns. The Maratus felinus peacock spider (shown) can be identified by its feline features
He told 10 daily: “They are incredibly small, but so charismatic and so colorful”,
In his research results, published this week in the international scientific journal Zootaxa, Mr. Schubert said that each of the new species can be identified by the different markings on their bellies.
The aquilus species refers to markings on the spider that resemble an eagle’s face when viewed from the front.
The felinus species has markings that resemble a cat.
The burnus species is named after its ‘fiery explosion’ pattern.
“These little boys are completely harmless,” said spider taxonomist Joseph Schubert. Depicted is the Maratus aquilus, named after its eagle-like markings on the abdomen
The new species is called southwestern Western Australia. Depicted is the Maratus burnus
According to Mr. Schubert, about 60 of the 74 peacock spider species have been discovered in the past 10 years research results.
“This interest is driven by the unique courtship behavior of the males of most species that display an elevated and often vibrantly colored opisthosoma and a third pair of legs to nearby females,” the report said.
Nearly half of all species of peacock spiders can be found only in southwestern Western Australia.
“The South West Australia ecoregion is known as one of the major biodiversity hotspots and a hotspot for peacock spider diversity,” said Mr. Schubert’s report.