Nemo has been found, but he's not what you would expect

Nathan Howes
·2 min read
Nemo has been found, but he's not what you would expect
Nemo has been found, but he's not what you would expect
Nemo has been found, but he's not what you would expect

The much-beloved Finding Nemo character has been immortalized in the name of a new dazzling spider species found in Australia.

Maratus nemo, the scientific name of the new peacock spider, was first uncovered through photographs taken by Sheryl Holliday, an ecological field officer with the Nature Glenelg Trust, in south Australia in November 2020. She came across the colourful specimen while walking in Mount Gambier.

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Published in Evolutionary Systematics, a recent study from Joseph Schubert, an arachnologist with Museums Victoria, outlined the discovery in greater detail.

The spider's nod to Nemo comes from the colours of the males, a striking similarity to the movie's title character in the popular 2003 Disney film.

Maratus nemo spider (Museums Victoria, photo by Joseph Schubert)
Maratus nemo spider (Museums Victoria, photo by Joseph Schubert)

A new peacock spider was recently found in Australia and named after Finding Nemo. Photo: Joseph Schubert | Museums Victoria.

"It has a really vibrant orange face with white stripes on it, which kind of looks like a clown fish, so I thought Nemo would be a really suitable name for it," Schubert told Museums Victoria.

The spider inhabits marshy vegetation in the wetlands – a surprisingly moist environment compared to other members of its genus.

UNIQUE FEATURES

The unique features of the adult male Maratus nemo include a dorsal opisthosomal plate that is often (but not always) covered with vibrantly coloured scales. It also has an elongated and usually ornamented third pair of legs, which male species use as a courtship tactic.

The males exhibit some similarities to members of the western Australian Maratus personatus group with having the anterior ocular area fixed with coloured scales, to form a ‘mask' if you will, and without having opisthosomal colouration or flaps.

This isn't the first peacock spider discovery for Schubert, who found his first in 2016 and has continued to find them since.

Nemo spider/Joseph Schubert | Museums Victoria
Nemo spider/Joseph Schubert | Museums Victoria

The unique features of the adult males include a dorsal opisthosomal plate that is often (but not always) covered with vibrantly coloured scales. Photo: Joseph Schubert | Museums Victoria.

"I've described 13 species of peacock spiders and five species of their cousins Jotus, which is another genus of jumping spider," he said, noting that seven of those new peacock spiders were located in 2020.

Schubert believes peacock spiders have captured the public's attention just because they’re "really, really cute for spiders," he said. "They’ve got these massive forward-facing eyes and you can relate to them a lot more than you can to a huntsman, for example."

Thumbnail courtesy of Joseph Schubert | Museums Victoria.