The stuff of NIGHTMARES: Giant TARANTULA eats OPOSSUM in Amazon Forest – And scientists didn’t flee in terror!

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The Amazon is full of very weird animal mysteries. After a humpback whale was found dead in Brazil, now a dinner plate-sized TARANTULA was captured dragging an OPOSSUM, presumably on its way to make a meal of it.

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A tarantula the size of a dinner plate eats an opossum in Amazon forest in Peru. Via Amphibian-Reptile Conservation

A University of Michigan-led team of biologists has documented 15 “rare and disturbing” predator prey interactions in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, including of a tarantula the size of a dinner plate dragging a young opossum across the forest floor.

In footage posted to YouTube by the university, researcher Mike Grundler, a PhD candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology at the school, describes the encounter with the nightmare-inducing spider.

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A wandering spider (Ctenidae) preying on a subadult Cercosaura eigenmanni lizard. Photo by Mark Cowan, in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

We were just walking the trails, walking along slowly, and we heard a scrabbling in the leaf litter,” he says in the video. “And we looked over and we saw the tarantula on top of the possum. Finding a spider eating another mammal was very unexpected,” Grundler added.

The tarantula was roughly the size of a “dinner plate.

A Michigan news release said that an opossum expert at the American Museum of Natural History confirmed the researchers had “captured the first documentation of a large mygalomorph spider preying on an opossum.

We were pretty ecstatic and shocked, and we couldn’t really believe what we were seeing,” Grundler said in the Michigan release.

In their paper published in the journal Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, the researchers documented Amazonian arthropod predators preying on frogs, lizards and snakes, in addition to the startling possum example.

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Giant spider preying on a frog in the Peruvian Amazon forest. via Amphibian Reptile Conservation

And if giant spiders eating things that should be too big for them to eat isn’t enough, the researchers also came across a large centipede eating a coral snake.

Coral snakes are very dangerous and can kill humans,” study co-author Joanna Larson said. “To see one taken down by an arthropod was very surprising. Those centipedes are terrifying animals, actually.

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[Amphibian Reptile Conservation, University of Michigan, WIS TV]

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