It’s Tuesday! I can’t believe I forgot to post an Awesome for Monday. I’ve remembered every week since October when I started the series. I guess I just forgot what day it was.
So, on to today’s Awesome. Last year, a video hit the Tube that was circulated rather widely amongst my sciency friends. It was about a group of Australian jumping spiders called ‘peacock spiders’ because they have a colourful, kind of frilly abdomen that they wave around in courtship dances. They are really cute. The original video is at the bottom, and if you’re interested, the presenter guy has made several others. But that’s not really today’s Awesome, that’s just background info.
The first thing I saw this morning when I opened the Canberra Times newspaper website (I rarely read hard copy newspapers anymore), was a new species of peacock spider described from Canberra. Taxonomy is not usually awesome (trust me!) but it was the way in which this was described that was really cool. A guy saw a cute spider while out bushwalking, took its picture and posted it on Flickr. Another guy, in America, left a comment saying “oh, that looks like a new species of the genus Maratus. Got any more specimens?”. And then, the guy from the YouTube video (who is based in Sydney) got involved with the taxonomy and voila, a new species. The Canberra Times doesn’t give any information about the actual taxonomic paper, but I guess that’s not the important bit for the public. New species are cool, and using the internet to connect researchers and keen amateurs is a really neat way of getting work done.