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Stylish jumping spider named after late fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld

Newly described 'brushed' jumping spider species Jotus karllagerfeldi and its famous namesake: fashion icon and designer, creative director, artist, photographer and caricaturist Karl Lagerfeld (1933-2019). Image of the newly described spider: Mark Newton, CeNak. Image of Karl Lagerfeld: Siebbi (modification by CeNak).

  • Researchers have named a previously undescribed species of black-and-white jumping spider Jotus karllagerfeldi, after the late fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld, known for his signature black-and-white style.
  • In addition to Karl Lagerfeld’s jumping spider, researchers have described four more new-to-science species of jumping spiders in the new paper, including J. albimanus, J. fortiniae, J. moonensis and J. newtoni.
  • All five newly described species belong to a group of miniscule spiders called the brushed jumping spiders, males of which can be extremely colorful and are known to perform elaborate mating dances using a brush of long, colorful bristles on their legs to wave to the females.
  • Despite being colorful and charismatic, very little is known about brushed jumping spiders, researchers say, urging amateurs who photograph these spiders to lodge their specimens with museums so that more new species can be described.

If there’s an iconic image of the late Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of Chanel and Fendi, it’s his signature black-and-white style: white ponytail, black sunglasses, black-and-white suit with high, detachable white-collared shirts.

That’s also the look being sported by a tiny black-and-white jumping spider species from Australia, according to a new study.

The arachnid, named Jotus karllagerfeldi after the style czar, has large black eyes that resemble sunglasses, and short black-and-white appendages called pedipalps next to its jaw, which resemble a Kent collar.

“Karl Lagerfeld inspired us with his unique sense of design and this new spider with big black eyes and white kent collar reminds us of his later looks — a fashion icon in black and white,” researchers write in the paper.

A newly described brushed jumping spider species, Jotus karllagerfeldi. Image by Mark Newton/CeNak.

In addition to Karl Lagerfeld’s jumping spider, Barbara Baehr, an arachnologist at Queensland Museum, and her colleagues described four more new-to-science species of jumping spiders, including J. albimanus, J. fortiniae, J. moonensis and J. newtoni. The specimens of all five species were drawn from museum collections.

All five newly described species belong to a group of miniscule spiders called brushed jumping spiders. The males of these spiders can be black-and-white or extremely colorful, with iridescent turquoise and orange patterns, and are known to perform elaborate mating dances using a brush of long, colorful bristles, known as setae, on their legs to wave to the females.

“The males perform unique dance rituals with their brilliantly decorated first pair of legs to attract females,” co-author Joseph Schubert, a jumping-spider taxonomist at Monash University, said in a statement. “These five new species are close relatives of the Australian peacock spiders which also perform courtship dances for females. This courtship behaviour makes them a crowd favourite and has popularised jumping spiders worldwide.”

Despite being colorful and charismatic, “almost nothing is known about their diversity and taxonomic identity,” Baehr said.

The researchers add that while museum collections tend to have few specimens of brushed jumping spiders, these arachnids are often photographed and posted online by naturalists. “We make a first effort here by re-illustrating old species and revising the specimens available at the Queensland Museum but we urge amateurs to lodge their specimens with museums so that the countless new species that are already photographed and available online can be described,” the authors write. “This is also important because large series of specimens are needed to match males and females in these sexually dimorphic spiders.”

Members of the jumping spider genus Jotus can be very colorful. Images by Robert Whyte (Jotus fortiniae sp. nov., top row) and Michael Doe (unidentified species, bottom row)/CeNak.

Banner image of Jotus karllagerfeldi and late Karl Lagerfeld by Mark Newton, CeNak, and Siebbi (modification by CeNak), respectively.

Citation:

Baehr, B. C., Schubert, J., & Harms, D. (2019). The Brushed Jumping Spiders (Araneae, Salticidae, Jotus L. Koch, 1881) from Eastern Australia. Evolutionary Systematics3, 53.