New Spider Discovered In Australia Looks Like Van Gogh's 'Starry Night'

Seven new species of peacock spiders have been discovered in Australia, and one bares a striking resemblance to artist Vincent van Gogh's iconic painting.

The Peacock Spider, or Maratus spider, is a tiny, vividly-coloured species that is unique to Australia.

They're known for iridescent colours and patterns on their abdomens, which males flaunt during elaborate courtships 'dances' that have clocked millions of views online.

Recently, Australia's self-proclaimed 'Spider-Man' Joseph Schubert, 22, named seven new species of peacock spiders, bringing the total number of species within the Maratus genus to 86.

Maratus laurenae. Image: Joseph Schubert

Five species are from WA, one from Victoria and one from South Australia.

The new species were published in leading international animal taxonomy journal Zootaxa last week.

Schubert works with Museums Victoria and has now named 12 species of Maratus. He said he is often sent images from citizens scientists, but also conducts his own fieldwork.

Maratus noggerup. Image: Joseph Schubert

Of the new finds, Schubert's favourite is 'Maratus constellatus', which he named after Vincent van Gogh's post-impressionist oil painting, 'Starry Night'.

"I ventured all the way to Kalbarri to find this species, which is about a seven-hour drive north of Perth," Schubert said.

"The patterns on the abdomen, to me, just look so much like Starry Night by van Gogh, hence the name ‘constellatus’ which means starry in Latin."

Maratus constellatus. Image: Joseph Schubert

Schubert said help from citizens scientists, who document the localities of species and send through images, is vital for his research.

He thinks this is just the start of new discoveries about the unique Aussie species.

"Considering how many peacock spiders have been discovered in the past few years, I certainly think there are more out there to be found," he said.



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