Thorelliola ensifera – Sword, horn or nose bearing?!

I’ve identified another jumping spider from Singapore. From now on my new camera allows for much better pictures!

These are not the most common species, but you can find them quite often. The size is average for a salticid, but the black legs make them look a bit bigger. This species has some nice black and cream-white patterns, and the three white dots on the back plus one on each leg of last pair make it easy to identify (of course there might be other species with three dots…). Juvenile spiders have more patterns and can also be more brownish.

Another feature is not so prominent, but once you know it is a looker, and explains the common name “Sword bearing spider”. Males have two large pins right below the two large middle front eyes. I find calling it a sword a bit too much since it is only tiny hairs. To me, it looks a bit like the nose of Bob’s crab-friend.

That nose is unusual enough, and so a team from New Zeeland did some research on the purpose of it. They use to call it horns. So what is it for? In microscopic images they neither found pores that would possibly emit pheromones nor they found any hints that the horns could be used to do other males harm. But since jumping spiders are very visual animals, it is likely that it has some sort of function in communication they say. In Germany people say “Wie die Nase eines Mannes, so sein Johannes.“ I couldn’t find a page that explains that in English, a loose translation would be “Like the nose, so the hose.”

In the mentioned study you’ll also find a detailed description of behavior when jumping spiders meet: They wave, twitch, they embrace and push and even ram each other! That is a very special repertoire of behavior in the world of spiders! Jumping spiders are amazing, they are great models to photograph and there are many more species to write about. Wait for it!