<p>A male peacock spider (<i>Maratus speciosus</i>) shows off his dazzling rear end during a courtship display.</p>

A male peacock spider (Maratus speciosus) shows off his dazzling rear end during a courtship display.

Photograph by Jurgen Otto

How peacock spiders use optical illusions to woo females

These tiny arachnids sport intense black patches that absorb a whopping 99.5 percent of light, enhancing nearby colors.

Tiny arachnids known as peacock spiders are remarkable for many reasons: their adorable many-eyed faces, elaborate courtship performances, and ninja-like jumping skills.

Now, scientists report, these fingertip-size spiders may also rely on super black patches, interspersed between their technicolor hues, to dazzle the ladies. (Read about the wild sex lives of spiders.)

“If you frame a bright color in super black, it looks awfully different,” says Dakota McCoy, a graduate student at Harvard University who recently described these intensely black patches in two jumping spider species in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“We think the black makes them look more beautiful by emphasizing nearby colors.”

According to the team’s observations, spider super black reflects less than

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