[Please Note: I would like to state that I have not experienced / seen any of the facts mentioned here. I am curious about the various unusual phenomenon occurring in nature. I have only researched and compiled these facts together. The images and videos presented in this blog are not photographed by me. Thank you.]
In spite of the resemblance, these are not miniature versions of the colourful bird. These are a special kind of spiders, commonly known as Peacock Spiders.
Most of these species of Genus Maratus belong to Family Salticidae or the Jumping spiders. Almost all species of Maratus are found in western or south-western parts of Australia. So far around 67 species and subspecies of peacock spiders have been reported
These spiders are very small or tiny in size, about 4-5 mm in length. Their life-span is around 3-5 years. They can leap a distance of almost forty times their body length. Peacock spiders are venomous, but not dangerous for humans. They display remarkable sexual dimorphism. The males of these species have a fan like structure on the upper surface of the abdomen.
This brightly coloured fan consists of highly iridescent scales or hairs which form colourful patterns. Usually there is a marked contrast of colours in the foreground and background of these fan-like structures. There could be additional flaps or thick fringes of hairs on the sides of abdomen. (In some species, these too are brightly coloured).
In the peacock spider species, the abdomen and thorax (cephalothorax) are joined by a long and flexible pedicel. Thus, the male spiders can raise their abdomen and also can wave or move it from side to side. The peacock spider females have more camouflaged appearance with light and dark brownish mottled patterns. The females do not possess additional flaps or fans.
The males display these distinct fan-like appendages in courtship dance and also while competing with other rival males. The third pair of legs in the peacock spider males, is longer and brightly coloured. This third pair of legs also is an important part of the courtship dance. Apart from these colourful displays, the males also send vibrating signals.
Each species of peacock spiders is differentiated by their distinctive patterns on the abdomen, and also by their species-specific dance moves. This courtship dance performance resembles a disco-dancing.
These spiders were first discovered 100 years ago, but became popularly known when Dr. Jurgen Otto extensively studied and photographed the various species.