Giant Amazon spider caught dragging possum in rainforest

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

In the Amazon rainforest, a team of researchers recorded spiders and other arthropods such as centipedes feasting on tadpoles, lizards, frogs, and, on one very memorable occasion, a tarantula the size of a dinner plate killing a young opossum and dragging it off to devour at leisure.

Researchers from the University of Michigan, US shared the video along with a paper in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation describing the weird encounter.

Once or twice a year, University of MI evolutionary biologist Daniel Rabosky leads a team of U-M researchers on a month-long expedition to a region of the Amazon jungle in southeastern Peru. "A surprising amount of death of small vertebrates in the Amazon is likely due to anthropods 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.

Michael Grundler, a University of MI doctoral candidate, said he and other students heard rustling in the leaves. A five-minute struggle ensued, where the opossum, roughly the size of a softball, tried to kick away from the eight-legged insect.

Spiders have been named among the unlikely kings of the jungle after scientists recorded a dinner plate-sized tarantula catching and eating a tiny possum.

Maggie Grundler, Michael's sister, pulled out her cellphone and started shooting video of the encounter.

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After reviewing the footage, an expert at the American Museum of Natural History confirmed it was the first documentation of a spider preying on an opossum.

"We looked over and we saw a large tarantula on top of an opossum", said Grundler, a co-author of the article.

They published other gruesome images of spiders with unusual prey.

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.

A tarantula snacks on a Bolivian bleating frog. "Walking on the African savanna at night with lions about is much scarier!"

Grundler went on: "We couldn't really believe what we were seeing".

Spiders are extremely diverse predators and they are known to eat creatures from all the major vertebrate groups, including birds, mammals, reptiles and fish. According to researchers, while they knew that what they were witnessing was special, at the moment they were unaware that it was the first observation.