Real Science and Other Adventures

Peacocks and peacock spiders

In case you missed it, peacock spiders are the new internet sensation. Sydney Biologist Jurgen Otto has made a hobby of discovering and studying these little beauties. Here’s his most popular video, which has more than 5 million views.

The Guardian has put together this video featuring several of them.

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/environment/video/2016/may/30/peacock-spiders-species-revel-in-their-new-found-fame-video

Why are they called peacock spiders?

Have a look at this peacock.

Even though they’re both animals, birds and spiders could hardly be more different. But these birds and spiders have very similar solutions to the same problem. Male peacock spiders and peacocks both do their fancy dance to attract a female.

We humans think they’re pretty cool too.

 

LINKS TO VCE BIOLOGY

This is an example of convergent evolution. One clue to this is in the name. The spider’s looks and behaviour remind us of the peacock.

As stated above, the two types of animal are evolutionarily very far apart. They’ve independently found a similar solution to a very important problem – passing on the genes. Natural selection relies on reproduction. A good adaptation is no good unless it’s passed on to the next generation. An adaptation that gets a male more mates is no exception.

MORE:

Why we should love spiders: http://theconversation.com/spiders-are-a-treasure-trove-of-scientific-wonder-51048

Article on peacock spiders (without the hype): http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(14)00591-0

The plain female spider can be seen right at the end of the first video. It’s the male with all the colour and pizzazz. The same goes for peafowls. (The peacock is the male peafowl and the female is called a peahen).

Image: Jurgen Otto [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia CommonsMalePeacockSpider (2)

CROSS-POSTED TO FIRESIDE SCIENCE ON THE SCIFUND CHALLENGE NETWORK

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This entry was posted on June 5, 2016 by in Animals, evolution, science for kids, VCE Biology and tagged , , , , .
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