CUTE CRITTER: A new species of jumping peacock spider was recently discovered near Stanthorpe by members of the citizen science group Project Maratus. INSET: That dot represents the spider’s approximate size compared to a 20 cent coin.
CUTE CRITTER: A new species of jumping peacock spider was recently discovered near Stanthorpe by members of the citizen science group Project Maratus. INSET: That dot represents the spider’s approximate size compared to a 20 cent coin. Adam Fletcher

This tiny dancer calls Stanthorpe home

DON'T like spiders? Maybe this little guy will change your mind.

With their colourful displays, intricate courtship dances and non-threatening size, jumping peacock spiders enjoy a level of popularity not usually associated with arachnids and Stanthorpe can now lay claim to one of it's very own.

Entomologist at the Western Sydney University and president of the citizen scientist organisation Project Maratus Michael Duncan said the group discovered the species they have informally dubbed Stan after stopping for a break near Girraween National Park.

"We knew at the time, because we know all the species, that it was an undiscovered species new to science," Mr Duncan said.

"It's an exhilarating experience to find something that nobody else in the world has ever seen so the excitement amongst the group is quite intense - everyone gets on this high."

With their bright colours and measuring only 3-5mm he described them as mini birds of paradise and said finding them was like finding a needle in the haystack.

"Most people have this inherent fear of spiders, but these you just can't dislike... they are colourful and cool and I think that's what's capturing the attention of people.

"It's fascinating that it's all happening on a micro level; they could be living in grass on the roadside or in people's backyards and they don't even know it."

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