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Tiny structures give a peacock spider its radiant rump

Pigments produce reds and creamy yellows, while nanostructures reflect blue hues

By
7:00am, September 9, 2016
peacock spider

BRILLIANT BUTTS  Researchers have deciphered the biophysics behind peacock spider bling. 

Male peacock spiders know how to work their angles and find their light.

The arachnids, native to Australia, raise their derriere — or, more accurately, a flap on their hind end — skyward and shake it to attract females. Hairlike scales cover their bodies and produce the vibrant colorations that make peacock spiders so striking.

 Doekele Stavenga of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and his colleagues collected Maratus splendens peacock spiders from a park outside Sydney and zoomed in on those scales.

Using microscopy, spectrometry and other techniques, the team found that the spiders’ red, yellow and cream scales rely on two pigments, 3-OH-kynurenine and xanthommatin, to reflect their colors. Even white scales contain low levels of

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