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Meet the Hawaiian spider that will make you smile
Scientifically, this tiny arachnid goes by the name of– but it takes little imagination to see how it got its more popular name: the happy-face spider.
Found only in rainforests in the Hawaiian islands , the spiders have a vast range of patterns and colours on their abdomens – yet all come from the same species.
The amazing diversity is due to, although the patterns may also change depending on diet.
Spider View: Scientists think the happy-face spider has evolved its patterns to confuse predators
The patterns may have developed as a way of confusing predators. The moment it takes an aggressor to work out whether the spider is prey or not provides a vital chance of escape.
However, the species, which was discovered in 1973, is now under threat from the introduction of non-native animals to the islands.
The most common form – or ‘morph’ – is plain yellow and has no smile. But other variations are plentiful – the ‘red front’ morph pictured here with a cluster of her eggs is the second-most common.
Happy Arachnids: Some of the patterns found in the species
The spiders are 5mm (less than a quarter of an inch) long and live alone on the underside of leaves – except during their mating season and for the first 40 to 100 days of spiderlings’ lives, when they are still too young to fend for themselves.
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