Friday, 22 March, 2019

Tropical Spiders Cause 'Surprising Amount of Death,' Hunting Opossums, Frogs and More

Cary Marshall | 02 March, 2019, 01:59

A team of biologists and researchers, led by the University of MI, captured the fascinating video footage during a recent trip to Peru to document "rare and disturbing" predator-prey interactions. For instance, they observed several large spiders preying on frogs and lizards, and they even observed a large centipede eating a live Catesby's snail-eater snake and another centipede eating a coral snake it had already decapitated.

The scientists also recorded the first evidence of a tarantula clutching one particularly unexpected victim: a young mouse opossum (Marmosops noctivagus) that was about the same size as the spider, a species in the Pamphobeteus genus.

The researchers published their findings in a paper in the journal Amphibian & Reptile Conservation.

A team of researchers led by University of MI biologists found some surprising things about the diets of large spiders and centipedes in the Amazon, according to a news release from the university.

Spiders are extremely diverse predators and they are known to eat creatures from all the major vertebrate groups, including birds, mammals, reptiles and fish. The study authors described 15 interactions captured in night surveys that took place during expeditions to southeastern Peru's Madre de Dios region in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2017, according to the study. During the night, the researchers would head out in single file, headlamps on, watching and listening for life.

The Amazon rainforest is home to many terrifying creatures, not the least of which are very big tarantulas the size of dinner plates.

As well as spider attacks, the team also documented centipedes feasting on vertebrates.

"We looked over and we saw a large tarantula on top of an opossum", researcher Michael Grundler said.

More news: Manchester City agree to £650m per year kit deal with Puma

One night, Michael Grundler and two other students "heard some scrabbling in the leaf litter".

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

"We were pretty ecstatic and shocked, and we couldn't really believe what we were seeing", Grundler said in the release.

Rick West, an independent arachnologist and tarantula expert not involved with the study, notes by email that "tarantula predation on vertebrates is not a common thing, but it does happen". "But it is a special human bias that leads us to think that this is somehow freakier than many other ways of dying: there is nothing pretty about most predation, whether it is coming from lions or peregrine falcons or crocodiles or anything else".

American scientists have for the first time captured vision of a giant tarantula spider preying on an opossum in the Amazon rainforest.

Researchers spotted a tarantula preying on a mouse opossum in the Amazon rainforest.

A tarantula preying on a Bolivian bleating frog.

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