WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- University of Michigan scientists were able to film a very rare encounter of a giant tarantula preying on an opossum while they were recording arthropod preys and predators in the Amazon.
- It turned out that the recorded encounter was that of a huge mygalomorph spider which belongs to the heavy-bodied class of spiders.
- This finding along with others documented by the researchers indicate that most small vertebrates in the Amazon are killed by arthropods.
An encounter with a massive eight-legged creature in the Amazon rainforest leaves scientists of the University of Michigan shocked and elated!
A tarantula as ‘large as a dinner plate’ dragging an opossum ‘the size of a softball’ was chanced upon by the biologists while they were documenting prey and predator interactions in the Amazon rainforest.
Their video of the encounter that showed the tarantula slowly dragging its prey was, according to a press release, the first ever in recorded history to be documented.
While studying Amazonian arthropod predators which are mostly large-sized spiders, centipedes and water bugs, hunting frogs, lizards and snakes near the hills in the Andes, they heard ‘some scrabbling in the leaf litter’ then spotted the giant spider.
“We saw a large tarantula on top of an opossum,” said one of the researchers, Michael Grundler. “The opossum was still struggling weakly at that point, but after about 30 seconds it stopped kicking.”
After consulting with an opossum expert at the American Museum of Natural History, the scientists couldn’t believe that that they have recorded the very first video of a gigantic mygalomorph spider preying on an opossum. Mygalomorphae refers to an infraorder of heavy-bodied and stout-legged spiders like tarantulas.
“This is an underappreciated source of mortality among vertebrates,” said evolutionary biologist Daniel Rabosky of the University of Michigan. “A surprising amount of death of small vertebrates in the Amazon is likely due to arthropods such as big spiders and centipedes.”
On February 28, the findings from observations in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2017 were published in the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation journal, which also listed other amazing encounters like a centipede feeding on one of the world’s deadliest reptiles– a dead coral snake.
Source: CBS News