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Published on Mar 23, 2011
Courtship of peacock spider Maratus volans from Australia. The FIRST EVER footage of this spider, shot in the wild. The video with which I introduced David Attenborough to peacock spiders.
If you watch the episode courtship in "Life stories" you might get the impression that the female of this species eats the male after they mated. This is "artistic licence". I watched them mating countless times and have not once observed the male being eaten by the female after they mated. Males get sometimes eaten by females, that is true, but this does not seem to involve the male they actually mated with, but rather those that are "silly" enough to continue to court gravid (fertilised) females. From the female's perspective these males have become useless as partner but are very useful as additional nourishment for her developing brood, they die anyway at the end of the season, whether they are eaten by females or not.
I also doubt that females judge the male's performance and eat those that don't stack up. From what I have seen virgin females will mate with pretty much every male they come across, it seems to be more a matter of the right place and time rather than the quality of its performance, but I believe that is still being studied and it will be interesting to see the results of that. If a female is not happy to mate with a particular female her first reaction is to walk away from him, as you would expect.