The amazing Australian Peacock spider

Isn’t he gorgeous? He’s an Australian peacock spider (Maratus volans) and the photo is by Jürgen Otto. He has a whole gallery of even better photos of this spectacular little arachnid that you’ll want to check out.  However what you really have to see is his video of the dance the males perform to attract the females (you might want to watch it on YouTube for the slightly larger format):

Absolutely wonderful images that demonstrate how apt the common name for these little spiders is. Thank you Jürgen for sharing them.

[Hat tip to Jerry Coyne.]

The not so itsy bitsy spider climbed out of the cactus

I was doing some long neglected yard work today and while pulling out some weeds around a dying bit of prickly pear cactus in the back yard I came upon this “little” beauty:

And here is one for scale:

OK, so it’s not a bird eating spider, the size of a dinner plate, but outside of a full blown tarantula it is the biggest spider I’ve seen in the wild around these parts (Southern California) since I was a kid. My first attempt at an identification would be a California trapdoor spider (Bothriocyrtum californicum), though it looks a little different from the pics I can find on the web and I didn’t find it associated with a trapdoor setup. It was just clinging to a bit of old prickly pear skin (an environment it was sharing with literally hundreds and hundreds of Eleodes).

Any spider guys out there that can confirm or correct my I.D.?