If you needed something new to grace your nightmares, university biologists have captured chilling video showing a giant spider eating a opossum.
The team published a journal article this week summarizing its findings.
"These events offer a snapshot of the many connections that shape food webs, and they provide insights into an important source of vertebrate mortality that appears to be less common outside the tropics", said study first author Rudolf von May. "A surprising amount of death of small vertebrates in the Amazon is likely due to arthropods such as big spiders and centipedes".
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.
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"We were just walking the trails, walking along slowly, and we heard a scrabbling in the leaf litter", he says in the video. A five-minute struggle ensued, where the opossum, roughly the size of a softball, tried to kick away from the eight-legged insect.
He said the tarantula was roughly the size of a "dinner plate".
Later, an opossum expert from the American Museum of Natural History confirmed that the video was the "first documentation of a large mygalomorph spider [tarantula] preying on an opossum". It details instances of arthropod predators like spiders, centipedes and a giant water bug preying on frogs, tadpoles, lizards and snakes.
A team of researchers traveled to the Madre De Dios region of the Amazon rainforest in southeastern Peru to survey predator-prey relationships in the Amazon rainforest.
"We looked over and we saw a large tarantula on top of an opossum", said U-M biologist Michael Grundler.
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"It may seem like everything is killing each other, but at least there is this one case in which frogs have figured out how to live with a spider".
"We were pretty ecstatic and shocked, and we couldn't really believe what we were seeing", Grundler added.
A tarantula preying on a Bolivian bleating frog. "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".
A lot of them were recorded at night; most of the predators recorded were spiders; and most of the prey were amphibians.
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