Published: Sun, March 03, 2019
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Michigan Researchers Find HUGE Spider in Amazon

Michigan Researchers Find HUGE Spider in Amazon

Describing it as an "underappreciated" mortality source among vertebrates, the researchers say that this shows that a surprising amount of deaths in small vertebrates can likely be attributed predation by arthropods such as spiders and centipedes.

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

Though such behaviours have been recorded before, the study provides more data about just how many vertebrates fall victim to small predators, particularly spiders.

Biologists at the University of MI (U of M) studied rare predator-prey interactions, particularly between arthropods and small vertebrates, over the course of a few years in the lowland rainforest located near the Andes foothills.

The study location: According to University of MI scientists, the lowland Amazon rainforest where they studied is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth.

A fishing spider preys on a tadpole in a pond in the Peruvian rainforest.

The nightmarish footage was released by the team from the University of MI who documented their encounters in the journal Amphibian & Reptile Conservation.

"We see big spiders a lot when we're out at night".

The Amazon rainforest is home to many terrifying creatures, not the least of which are enormous tarantulas the size of dinner plates. "We looked over and we saw the tarantula on top of the opossum, and we just sort of sat and watched that observation until the tarantula got exhausted of us and walked away".

"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".

Upon reviewing footage of the rare occurrence, Robert Voss, a mammologist at the American Museum of Natural History confirmed that it appeared to be the first-ever documentation of "a large mygalomorph spider [tarantula] preying upon opossums", National Geographic reports. "They are opportunistic feeders and they'll take whatever they can subdue".

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

He also noted that, just like a bird or a jaguar, spiders have to eat, too. Many predators relied on paralyzing venom to trap their meal, while others used their large jaws to their advantage.

A tarantula snacks on a Bolivian bleating frog.

"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".

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