This joker is a spider!
A newfound spider species wears a striking red-and-white pattern on its back that resembles the grin worn by Batman’s long-standing nemesis, the Joker. The resemblance is so uncanny that the researchers who described the arachnid named the species after actor Joaquin Phoenix, who portrayed the tormented, smiling villain in the 2019 film, “Joker.”
Ironically, the colorful spider belongs to a genus that was named for the late punk rock icon Lou Reed, who famously wore black and rarely smiled.
Scientists discovered Loureedia phoenixi in Iran; it’s the first Loureedia spider to be identified outside the Mediterranean region, they reported in a new study. The genus, first described in 2018, now includes four species.
In fact, spiders in this family — Eresidae — are known as velvet spiders because they sport dense, velvety coats.
So far, scientists have collected and described only male Joker spiders. But the search will continue for the elusive females, targeting locations where males have been found.
Unlike other spiders, Velvet spiders are especially interesting to archaeologists because some have unusual habits, such as cooperating to build communal nests and collectively caring for their young.