Say hello to Maratus nemo, a new species of peacock spider named for its resemblance to the beloved star of Pixar's Finding Nemo. Australian arachnologist Joseph Schubert named the adorable spider for the male's dazzling orange and white palette, which recalls the timid young clownfish in the 2003 Oscar-winning animated feature film.
Peacock spiders, a type of Australian jumping spider, are so named for the vibrant, often iridescent scales on the upper surface of the males' abdomen. The males display the markings during courtship dances that involve lifting a single leg and slowly waving it in a partially flexed position. As the female approaches, the male raises and more quickly waves a pair of legs while bobbing its colorful abdomen flaps up and down.
If you're having trouble picturing these sexy spider moves, you can see them performed below to the tune of YMCA. (No, that's not Nemo in the video. Yes, I'm in love.)
Citizen scientist Sheryl Holliday first found Nemo the spider in Nangwarry, a town in the Mount McIntyre region of Australia's south, and posted photos to a Facebook group for Australian jumping spiders. Schubert, a taxonomist with the Melbourne Museum, saw the images, contacted Holliday and went to work studying the creature in depth. He details the find in the journal Evolutionary Systematics.
Peacock spiders are teeny-tiny, measuring anywhere from 0.05 inch (1.5 millimeters) to a third of an inch (7.62 millimeters). To anyone without superhero vision, they look like ordinary brown spiders at first glance. But under a macro lens or microscope, their brilliant colors and patterns appear.
Peacock spiders occupy a wide range of habitats. Holliday found the new species in wetlands, in marshy vegetation. No other peacock spider is known to occupy such a habitat, according to the study.
Maratus nemo joins a distinguished class of peacock spiders named after iconic cultural offerings. Last year, Schubert introduced seven new peacock spiders, including one that looks like Vincent Van Gogh's famous painting Starry Night.