Maratus sceletus, Otto & Hill, 2015

Otto, Jürgen C. & Hill, David E., 2015, Two new peacock spiders of the calcitrans group from southern Queensland (Araneae: Salticidae: Euophryinae: Maratus), Peckhamia 121 (1), pp. 1-34: 16-31

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Maratus sceletus

new species

Maratus sceletus   , new species

Type specimens. The holotype male (♂ #13) was collected at Wondul Range National Park in southern Queensland (S 28.04862°, E 151.04878°, 13 SEP 2013 M. Girard & E. A. King coll.). Paratypes (♂ #1-12, ♀ #1-4, ♀ #5-6 collected as immatures and raised to maturity) were found nearby (S 28.04841°, E 151.04669°, 438 m, 27, 29 JUL 2014, J. Otto coll.). All types will be deposited in the Queensland Museum in Brisbane GoogleMaps   .

Etymology. The species group name ( sceletus   , noun, Latin) means skeleton, a reference to the bold, skeleton-like appearance of the male spider.

Diagnosis. Male Maratus sceletus   resemble other members of the calcitrans   group in their general pattern, but have little colouration and are mostly black and white. They also have a distinct tuft of long, white setae extending toward the front between the AME. Legs III are never extended during their fan dance, but are unilaterally elevated in a flexed position.

Description of male ( Figures 18-23 View Figure 18 View Figure 19 View Figure 20 View Figure 21 View Figure 22 View Figure 23 ). Males (N=8) ranged from 3.7 to 4.2 mm in body length, not including the spinnerets.

The carapace and chelicerae are black. The clypeus is solid black, but interrupted by a prominent tuft of long white setae extending to the front between the AME. From the front, the pedipalps are black with a prominent line of bright white setae on their anterior margins. Since the pedipalps are normally rotated to meet at the median, these white setae comprise an uninterrupted horizontal band separating the black clypeus from the black dorsal cymbia. The eye region is black, with connected anterior and lateral bands of bright white setae, and a separate transverse band of white setae across the middle. There is a wider transverse white band behind the PLE, separated into two bands on either side that extend toward the margin of the carapace. There is no marginal band of the carapace, however, and the sides and rear are black.

The opisthosoma is oval in shape but without lateral flaps. The dorsal pattern is unique and skeleton-like, with a pattern of dark red to black scales arranged in four longitudinal bands toward the front, and five larger transverse bands behind these, on a background of iridescent blue scales. This pattern is punctuated by bright white setae comprising an anterior marginal band, a narrow anterior median band, and four tufts of longer white setae on either side. One more tuft of long white setae is present on either side of the spinnerets, which are black with tufts of white distal setae, more visible when these are extended during courtship display. The underside of the opisthosoma and the coxa of legs III and IV are light brown with bright lateral bands of white setae, and otherwise scattered white setae, fading to yellow or white in ethanol. The sternum, coxae of legs I and II, labium, and endites are dark brown in living spiders.

Legs I and II are about the same length, much shorter than legs III and IV. Legs III are by far the longest. All legs are generally black, with dorsal stripes comprised of white setae. Femora and tibia of legs III also bear a ventral fringe of white setae, demarcating an anterior black stripe that is visible from the front when the male displays to a female. The tarsi of legs III are not prominently marked as in most other Maratus   , and figure little in display as these legs are only raised and flexed but not extended.

The outer and inner apices of the embolus of the pedipalp are prominent and well-separated. The outer apex is large and blunt, whereas the inner apex is smaller and pointed at the tip.

inset rectangle in (4), showing iridescent light-blue scales at upper left, longer bright white scales at upper right, and narrower black scales elsewhere.

Description of female ( Figures 24-27 View Figure 24 View Figure 25 View Figure 26 View Figure 27 ). Paratype females (N=2) ranged from 5.0- 5.3 mm in body length, not including the spinnerets.

colouration, with scattered grey to white setae on the underside of the opisthosoma.

The eye region, including the lateral margins surrounding the lateral eyes, is darkly pigmented but otherwise covered uniformly with grey to white setae. Longer grey to white setae project forward on the clypeus below the AME. Otherwise, the clypeus, chelicerae, and sides of the carapace are light-brown, translucent, and glabrous. The PME are almost equidistant between the ALE and the PLE.

The dorsal opisthosoma bears a distinct pattern of tranverse pigmented areas beneath a uniform covering of grey to white setae. At the median these are somewhat chevron-shaped, terminating in a bold and distinctive 'V' shaped pattern just in front of the spinnerets. Below, the entire body, including the legs, sternum, labium, and endites, is relatively glabrous (except for scattered white to grey setae of the ventral opisthosoma), light-brown, and translucent. Under ethanol, this colour fades to solid white.

Legs I and II are about the same length, much shorter than legs III and IV, and legs III are by far the longest. The legs are mostly translucent, light-brown and glabrous, except for scattered white setae on legs III and IV. Posterior spermathecae of the epigynum are close to the fossae in diameter ( Figure 26 View Figure 26 ). Sclerotized ducts barely enter the posterior fossae, and separate medial (bean-shaped) and lateral areas of sclerotization can be seen.

Immatures ( Figure 28 View Figure 28 ). Emergent instars have a dark pigmented eye region like that of adult females. Penultimate females resemble adults with respect to the presence of bold markings on the dorsal opisthosoma and white setae on legs III and IV.

Male display ( Figures 29-34 View Figure 29 View Figure 30 View Figure 31 View Figure 32 View Figure 33 View Figure 34 ). Male Maratus sceletus   generally approach the female from the opposite side of a stem or blade of grass. If the female is on top, the male approaches from below, in a hanging position. If the female is positioned belly-up beneath a stem, the male approaches from above. The fan dance of the male rapidly alternates from one side of a stem to the opposite side ( Figure 32 View Figure 32 ). Positions may be switched 10 times in a 20s interval, with only ~1s or less of display in a single position. The fan is prominently elevated and often waggled from side to side during this display, but the greatest and most rapid movement is that of the extended spinnerets, separately twitched from side to side. During display, the pedipalps are often moved up and down in front of the clypeus and chelicerae. One leg III is elevated but also flexed, displaying a prominent black stripe with little significant movement.

Mating ( Figure 35 View Figure 35 ). The final approach and mating of Maratus sceletus   is similar to that of other Maratus species   that have been observed.

Habitat ( Figure 36 View Figure 36 ). Maratus sceletus   was found in clumped or bunched grass at Wondul Range National Park. M. jactatus   was found nearby, in leaf litter.