Thursday, 21 March, 2019

Scientists Record Massive Tarantula Dragging Opossum Through Jungle

Video: Amazon Tarantula Bigger Than Your Head Prepares to Devour Opossum in Horrifying Footage Tropical Spiders Cause 'Surprising Amount of Death,' Hunting Opossums, Frogs and More
Cary Marshall | 03 March, 2019, 04:45

You can watch the nightmarish footage in a video released on Friday by the University of MI.

University of MI researchers studying "predator-prey interactions in the Amazon rainforest" caught a giant tarantula dragging an opossum, presumably on its way to make a meal of it.

A journal article that highlights the scary observation was published in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation.

Once or twice a year, University of MI evolutionary biologist Daniel Rabosky leads a team of U-M researchers on a month-long expedition to a region of the Amazon jungle in southeastern Peru.

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.

One night, they heard "some scrabbling in the leaf litter". A five-minute struggle ensued, where the opossum, roughly the size of a softball, tried to kick away from the eight-legged insect.

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. Grundler's sister Maggie captured the video on camera.

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Researchers checked in with an opossum expert at American Museum of Natural History and confirmed they captured the first documentation of a large mygalomorph spider preying on an opossum.

The researchers also observed spiders eating frogs and lizards, and a centipede eating a dead coral snake that it had decapitated.

He brings a group of researchers to the lowland Amazon rainforest in a remote part of southeastern Peru once or twice a year.

"We were pretty ecstatic and shocked, and we couldn't really believe what we were seeing", Grundler said in a statement. "And we looked over and we saw the tarantula on top of the possum".

"It may seem like everything is killing each other, but at least there is this one case in which frogs have figured out how to live with a spider".

"They're large active predators and so they're out hunting all the time", Rabosky said. While the tarantula in the genus Pamphobeteus will usually jump at the chance to eat a frog, it allows individuals of one species, the dotted humming frog (Chiasmocleis royi), to share its underground burrow.

Knowledge of predator-prey interactions between spiders there, however, remains somewhat limited given the diversity of prey and arthropod predators. "We knew we were witnessing something pretty special, but we weren't aware that it was the first observation until after the fact".

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