I’ve written previously about how some sciences lend themselves toward video presentation more than others. Despite the fact that chemists, physicists and mathematicians CAN and DO make some pretty entertaining productions (see my posts here and here for some great examples), the field of organismal biology simply begs to be captured on the cyberscreen.

In this first video Dr. Jurgen Otto, an entomologist working in southeastern Australia, shows us the captivating mating rituals of the peacock spider. His footage is among the first to capture the unique dance of this tiny arachnid, and Otto couples it with several still shots of the ‘painted beauty’ that’s given the spider such a nickname.

Dr. Otto’s video reminded me of an episode of the ‘Planet Earth’ series from the BBC in which male birds of paradise perform an analagous mating dance to woo the ladies. The evolutionary parallels between both the routines and the overall appearance of these very distantly related fellas are astonishing!

Not all boys have the luxury of hitting the dance floor solo – in many cases an impression must be made on the ladies through the dreaded ‘group number’. It’s not easy to stand out from the crowd during such displays, but a chance to sire the next generation is a prize worth dancing for. This short excerpt from the Nature series on PBS featuring Andean flamingos showcases the graceful sway of the mating crowd – oh how’s a girl to choose?

 

So where does the human species fit into the mating dance rituals? Although most human females do not include ‘ability to woo me on the dance floor’ among the most desirable assets in a potential mate, there’s no question that some members of our species are markedly more proficient in such rituals than others.