Scientists Record Massive Tarantula Dragging Opossum Through Jungle

In addition to the opossum, the article details instances of arthropod predators - mostly large spiders along with a few centipedes and a giant water bug - preying on vertebrates such as frogs and tadpoles, lizards and snakes, a statement from the university said.

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.

Though it's not unusual to see one of these large spiders in the rainforest, Grundler says they're usually spied eating smaller prey, such as a frog or cicada.

The tarantula was the size of a dinner plate, and the young mouse opossum was about the size of a softball, according to a university statement.

Talking about the scene was University of MI evolutionary biologist Daniel Rabosky, who said, "This is an underappreciated source of mortality among vertebrates".

They made their finds at night in Peru's lowland tropical rainforests, one of the most diverse places on the planet. Grundler describes the spider as being "the size of a dinner plate", just in case you're not freaked out enough already.

The team also collected the bodies of two snakes that succumbed to centipedes, including a venomous coral snake.

They published other gruesome images of spiders with unusual prey.

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Eight-legged predators have been seen " eating a surprising amount of vertebrates" in the Amazon, a new National Geographic study revealed.

"In a single night survey, it's fairly common to see between three and five predator-prey interactions", lead study author Rudolf von May, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan (UM), told Live Science in an email.

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.

"In the South American rainforest, I've found that some of the larger tarantulas prey often on frogs, and that was reflected in this article".

Considering this diversity and the sheer number of invertebrates in the Amazon, the potential for interactions between species is staggering.

"Tarantula predation on vertebrates is not a common thing, but it does happen". The tarantula preys on every other frog, but leaves this little guy alone.

"We were pretty ecstatic and shocked, and we couldn't really believe what we were seeing". 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 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.

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