Massive tarantula seen dragging opossum in Amazon rainforest expedition, video shows

A rainforest expedition led by a team from the University of Michigan found “the stuff of nightmares” when it recorded a series of giant jungle bug predators during their most savage moments.

Among the images recorded with a cell phone is a “dinner plate-size tarantula dragging a young opossum across the forest floor,” according to a Feb. 28 press release from the university.

The explorers also found large spiders preying on frogs and lizards and a “centipede eating a dead coral snake that it had decapitated,” the press release said.

In all, 15 “rare and disturbing predator-prey interactions” were documented, a release said.

The study, published Thursday in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, focuses on spiders, centipedes and a giant water bug in the lowland Amazon, “preying on...frogs, tadpoles, lizards, snakes” and, of course, the ill-fated opossum, according to the university’s web site.

Most of the discoveries were made at night, as team members walked through the jungle with flashlights, listening for “scrabbling in the leaf litter,” said a statement from doctoral candidate Michael Grundler, a co-author of the study.

It marked the first time biologists found proof “of a large mygalomorph spider preying on an opossum,” the university’s press release said.

“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,” Grundler said on the university’s web site.

“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.”

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, the LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.