Scientists Record Massive Tarantula Dragging Opossum Through Jungle

Scientists Record Massive Tarantula Dragging Opossum Through Jungle

Scientists Record Massive Tarantula Dragging Opossum Through Jungle

INVERTEBRATES SUCH AS spiders and centipedes are underappreciated kings of the jungle, eating a surprising amount of vertebrates in the Amazon, a new study says.

A morbid film and images of the encounter were captured by a team of University of MI researchers, who documented 15 rare and disturbing predator-prey interactions in the Amazon rainforest.

The paper also documents spiders and a giant water bug killing various frogs and lizards and a particularly terrifying case of a large centipede decapitating and partially eating a venomous coral snake.

"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.

You can read the researchers' full paper, published last month in the journal Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, here.

These observations suggest that arthropods are "a major source of mortality" for small vertebrates, said study co-author Dan Rabosky, an associate professor of herpetology at UM and a curator at the UM Museum of Zoology.

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They made their finds at night in Peru's lowland tropical rainforests, one of the most diverse places on the planet.

Researchers captured this "dinner plate"-sized tarantula eating a mouse opossum".

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

A giant tarantula has been filmed dragging a young opossum away to its death in what is thought to be the first ever documentation of a spider preying on these small marsupials.

Researchers came across the scene after hearing "sounds of struggle", Rabosky said in an email to HuffPost.

One night, they heard "some scrabbling in the leaf litter".

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Maggie Grundler, Michael's sister, pulled out her cellphone and started shooting video of the encounter.

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

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

A MI news release said that an opossum expert at the American Museum of Natural History confirmed the researchers had "captured the first documentation of a large mygalomorph spider preying on an opossum". According to researchers, while they knew that what they were witnessing was special, at the moment they were unaware that it was the first observation.

Researchers captured video and photographs of battles between predators and prey in the rainforest. "They are opportunistic feeders and they'll take whatever they can subdue". 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.

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