Okay, spiders might not be at the top of the list when we think of adorable animals, but that might just have to change. After all, dancing spiders just look like they want to have fun. Now, the Nemo dancing spider is the latest mover and shaker on the list.
Spotting something unusual
Sheryl Holliday was enjoying a day of photography in South Australia when she tried to snap a photo of some purple orchids in the water. It wasn’t until she hit the shutter that Sheryl spotted something move and decided to try and capture the creature on camera. Apparently, the photographer has been interested in dancing spiders for a few years but thought this one looked a little different. Sheryl snapped a photo and uploaded it to social media on one of the dancing spiders appreciation pages.
Identifying the new species
Joseph Schubert, an arachnologist and administrator of the page, also noticed there was something unusual about the dancing spider and decided to take a closer look. He reached out to Sheryl, who was quickly able to capture some of the spiders and send them to the expert. Here, Joseph promptly realized the reason it looked so different was that it was a type of jumping spider that had never been discovered.
Earning their name
Many dancing spiders are brightly covered all over their entire bodies. Not this one. It had a dull abdomen and distinct orange and white stripes on its back. It didn’t take long for the team to settle on a new name, Maratus nemo, the Nemo dancing spider for short, named after the famous Disney clownfish. It seems the Nemo dancing spider is also more different than many imagined as most of the species prefers dry land, while this one was hanging around in shallow water.
Not so easy to spot
One of the things that makes dancing spiders so intriguing is the fact they are so small. In fact, they are usually no larger than a grain of rice. It’s only their striking colors that make them stand out against the backdrop and have seen them win a place in many people’s hearts. However, they don’t keep their appearance all year round. Males molt in the spring, making it even tougher to pick them out.
Plenty left to find
Believe it or not, but in 2011, it was thought there were just 15 species of dancing spider., the discovery of the Nemo dancing spider means there is now a staggering 92 – and that’s just the start. It’s estimated that researchers have only identified 30% of invertebrates across Australia, meaning there could be several more species to come. In fact, there could be as many as 15,000 species of spiders that have slipped under the radar so far.
The Nemo dancing spider is the latest of its kind to make its way into the history books, and it seems the internet already can’t get enough. An adorable dancing spider and Disney? What could be better than that?