For the first time, scientists have captured a giant spider eating a small marsupial in the Amazon rain forest.
In a video which’ll probably haunt your nightmares for some time, scientists recorded a spider ‘the size of a dinner plate’ dragging an opossum across the forest floor.
The opossum was apparently ‘still twitching’ when the researchers started filming. The spider can be seen dragging its prey by the neck, hauling its meal towards a tree before chowing down.
Scientists from the University of Michigan were in the Peruvian Amazon to collect research for a paper called ‘Ecological interactions between arthropods and small vertebrates in a lowland Amazon rainforest’. Which basically translates to ‘spiders eating other creatures’. You can read it here.
The study documents 15 different incidents which the team managed to record, mainly of large spiders and centipedes devouring prey like frogs, snakes, lizards and – evidently – opossums.
You can watch the video here:
Speaking about the unexpected event, research Michael Grundler said:
We were pretty ecstatic and shocked, and we couldn’t really believe what we were seeing.
We knew we were witnessing something pretty special, but we weren’t aware that it was the first observation until after the fact.
Dan Rabosky, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan, told CNN:
These are not common events to observe, period. Any kind of predation event involving a vertebrate, whether it’s a snake eating a frog or a bird eating a lizard – all of these are very rare.
Rabosky said he usually takes a group of researchers out to the rain forest in southeastern Peru once or twice a year, to try to better understand ‘why there are so many species in the tropics’ as ‘it’s a puzzle that’s fascinated biologists for a long time’.
Although the team are usually on the lookout for snakes, frogs and lizards, large spiders such as this one are not uncommon.
They’re large active predators and so they’re out hunting all the time. We’ll frequently find them preying on large crickets and grasshoppers.
As the research continues, this new video highlights how much more there is to know about the creepy inhabitants of the rain forest.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.