Published: Sat, March 02, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Spider eating opossum: Tarantula drags, eats opossum in Amazon rainforest

During their survey, researchers found arthropods such as spiders and centipedes preying on vertebrates such as frogs, lizards, and even snakes and small opossum.

In the Amazon rainforest, a team of researchers recorded spiders and other arthropods such as centipedes feasting on tadpoles, lizards, frogs, and, on one very memorable occasion, a tarantula the size of a dinner plate killing a young opossum and dragging it off to devour at leisure.

A team of scientists from the University of MI documented more than a dozen "rare and disturbing predator-prey interactions", including video of the massive spider that preyed upon the small vertebrate.

It's something straight out of a horror movie: A giant tarantula - the size of a dinner plate - grabs an opossum and drags it through the Amazon rainforest.

"We were pretty ecstatic and shocked, and we couldn't really believe what we were seeing", Michael Grundler, a PhD student and contributing author, said in a statement.

The team published a journal article this week summarizing its findings.

"Invertebrates preying on vertebrates is common, but it's generally not assumed to be an important source of mortality for amphibians and reptiles", says study leader Rudolf von May, a biologist at the University of MI.

"Predation of small vertebrates by arthropods has been documented in several lowland rainforest sites, yet our knowledge of these interactions remains limited, especially given the diversity of vertebrate prey and potential arthropod predators in species-rich tropical communities", the researchers explained in their paper.

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Most of the sightings were made at night, when the arthropod predators are most active, the researchers said.

A rainforest expedition led by a team from the University of MI found "the stuff of nightmares" when it recorded a series of giant jungle bug predators during their most savage moments.

Grundler's sister Maggie pulled out her cellphone and shot photos and some video.

A team of researchers traveled to the Madre De Dios region of the Amazon rainforest in southeastern Peru to survey predator-prey relationships in the Amazon rainforest.

"Tarantula predation on vertebrates is not a common thing, but it does happen".

Mammologist at the American Museum of Natural History Robert Voss said he believes this is the first-ever documented tarantula on opossum attack.

"We were pretty ecstatic and shocked, and we couldn't really believe what we were seeing", Grundler said in the MI release. "They are opportunistic feeders and they'll take whatever they can subdue", West told National Geographic. "We knew we were witnessing something pretty special, but we weren't aware that it was the first observation until after the fact". The tarantula preys on every other frog, but leaves this little guy alone.

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