A dinner-plate-sized tarantula drag an opossum it just killed

Researchers find giant tarantula eating opossum record it instead of fleeing in terror

"This is an underappreciated source of mortality among vertebrates", said evolutionary biologist Daniel Rabosky of the University of MI (U-M).

A team from the University of MI filmed the footage in the Amazon rainforest. The team's research over several years has mainly focused on reptiles and amphibians.

For small animals in the tropics, spiders and their arthropod cousins are responsible for "a surprising amount of death", scientists recently discovered.

Spiders are extremely diverse predators and they are known to eat creatures from all the major vertebrate groups, including birds, mammals, reptiles and fish.

"Our knowledge of these interactions remains limited". Study co-author Joanna Larson said: "Coral snakes are very risky and can kill humans".

Isn't the idea of frogs and tarantulas being BFFs just the most adorable thing?

According to von May, there are about 85 species of amphibians, mostly frogs and toads, and about 90 species of reptiles in the study site.

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

Aside from the Los Amigos Biological Station, the researchers also made observations at the Villa Carmen Biological Station, also located in Peru's Madre de Dios region, and at the Madre Selva Research Station in the Loreto region of northern Peru.

A fishing spider preys on a tadpole in a pond in the Peruvian rainforest. Many predators relied on paralyzing venom to trap their meal, while others used their large jaws to their advantage. To do this, they carried out night surveys by walking through the forest with flashlights and headlamps and scanning the foliage for signs of activity.

Michael Grundler, a University of MI doctoral candidate, said he and other students heard rustling in the leaves.

"We were pretty ecstatic and shocked, and we couldn't really believe what we were seeing", says Michael Grundler of the University of MI. "The opossum had already been grasped by the tarantula and was still struggling weakly at that point, but after about 30 seconds it stopped kicking".

Scientists watched on in amazement as a dinner-plate-sized tarantula in the Amazon was seen eating an opossum for the first time.

Although numerous encounters were brutal, the team said by far the most vicious and terrifying is that between the tarantula and the mouse opossum.

One team member was able to get video on a cell phone, capturing the "first documentation of a large mygalomorph spider preying an opossum".

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



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