The pike slender jumper

 

Braamspunt, 13th October 2013. We were looking at the small barnacles on this piece of driftwood when a quick moving black dot caught our interest. It appeared to be a very tiny and peculiar looking spider, and with such a big pair of front legs, Popeye came to mind instantly. 

The Marpissa pikei also known as the pike slender jumper or long-bodied jumping spider, has a very long and narrow body (more than twice as long as wide). Thanks to this specialised body shape, it can hide while stretching along twigs or blades of grass. When resting or hiding the two pairs of front legs are stretched in front while the two pairs of hind legs are tucked behind, along the tail. Both sexes are about 8 mm long, excluding the legs. While the male has a broad black median stripe spanning the whole body and orange front legs and carapace orange, the female has a duller coloration, with the abdomen pale cream-colored, speckled with black. Looks like we've encountered a male spider!

These spiders are very hard to spot when still. Once they move, they are exceedingly quick and jerky. The enlarged first pair of legs is not used in walking, but is extended in front. When males spot a female, they approach it with their front legs extended and waving, prior to mating. They like to hide in low or tall grasses, especially along seashores. According to Wikipedia this spider is found in the eastern USA, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Cuba. Now we can add Braamspunt, Suriname to the list! (en.wikipedia.org, 2014).

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