University of MI biologists captures photo of spider eating opossum


You can watch the nightmarish footage in a video released on Friday by the University of MI.

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.

Rabosky, an associate professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of MI, published a paper along with his team of researchers late last month in the peer-reviewed journal Amphibian & Reptile Conservation.

"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.

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

Captured in the Amazon rainforest lowlands at night, researcher and Ph.D. candidate Mike Grundler recounts in the video, "We walk (ed) along slowly and we heard a scrabbling in the leaf litter".

"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", co-author Michael Grundler, a PhD student says in a statement.

The gruesome pick of the troubling lot is a video that shows a spider that's "bigger than a dinner plate" munching on an opossum.

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

Researchers checked in with an opossum expert at American Museum of Natural History and confirmed they captured the first documentation of a large mygalomorph spider preying on an opossum.

During their survey, researchers found arthropods such as spiders and centipedes preying on vertebrates such as frogs, lizards, and even snakes and small opossum.

Among their finds is a one-of-a-kind event when they chanced upon a large tarantula preying on a young mouse opossum.

"We knew we were witnessing something pretty special, but we weren't aware it was the first observation until after the fact". 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.

The team, led by evolutionary biologist Daniel Rabosky, was studying predator-prey interactions in the Amazon rainforest.

Knowledge of predator-prey interactions between spiders there, however, remains somewhat limited given the diversity of prey and arthropod predators.

A tarantula snacks on a Bolivian bleating frog.