Spider eating opossum: Tarantula drags, eats opossum in Amazon rainforest

Mindy Sparks
March 3, 2019

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.

The scientists later published their findings from observations in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2017 in the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation journal on February 28.

"Invertebrates preying on vertebrates is common, but it's generally not assumed to be an important source of mortality for amphibians and reptiles", said von May, a biologist at the University of MI. The paper detailed the team's observed interactions in the Amazon over the past several years between small vertebrates and arthropods.

"Our research is mainly focused on trying to understand why there are so many species in the tropics", Rabosky said.

One night, they heard "some scrabbling in the leaf litter". "We looked over and we saw the tarantula on top of the opossum, and we just sort of sat and watched that observation until the tarantula got exhausted of us and walked away". 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.

Grundler's sister Maggie pulled out her cell phone and shot photos and some video, the statement said.

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".

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

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

They published other gruesome images of spiders with unusual prey. "Walking on the African savanna at night with lions about is much scarier!"

Researchers captured video and photographs of battles between predators and prey in the rainforest. "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".

Arachnologist Rick West said tarantulas typically prey on frogs, but added: "They are opportunistic feeders and they'll take whatever they can subdue".

Majority were recorded at night; most of the predators recorded were spiders; and most of the prey were amphibians.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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