Dinner-plate sized tarantula seen eating opossum

Researchers found tarantulas the size of dinner plates eating lizards, snakes and an opossum in the Amazon rainforest.

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What sounds like a horror B-movie is part of research documenting 15 predator-prey interactions observed over various expeditions to the Amazon rainforest near the Andes foothills in Peru by University of Michigan faculty, students and staff, and published Thursday in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation.

"We were pretty ecstatic and shocked, and we couldn't really believe what we were seeing," Michael Grundler said in a statement. "We knew we were witnessing something pretty special, but we weren't aware that it was the first observation until after the fact."

The spider, among leaves on the forest bed, was seen Nov. 18, 2016, by researchers holding the young opossum by the neck before the rodent stopped moving and the spider dragged it behind a tree root.

The research includes predator-prey observations made from the Los Amigos Biological Station, Villa Carmen Biological Station and Madre Selva Research Station from 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2017.

Other predator-prey interactions include a centipede that decapitated and ate a coral snake and other large spiders stalking frogs and a lizard.

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