The video of a large tarantula crawling out of a socket is a bit frightening, but it also provides a new perspective on the life of animals in the Amazon rainforest.
A team of researchers led by biologists at the University of Michigan discovered some surprising things about the diets of large spiders and centipedes in the Amazon, according to a university press release.
That is, these creatures eat more small vertebrates, such as frogs, lizards and snakes, than previously thought.
"It is likely that a surprising number of deaths of small vertebrates in the Amazon are due to arthropods such as large spiders and centipedes," said Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, Daniel Rabosky in the statement.
And the menu of small vertebrates that the scientists observed included at least one opossum. In the video above, doctoral candidate Mike Grundler describes the tarantula as "about the size of a plate" and says that seeing the spider eating a mammal was "very unexpected." The recording of a spider charging the possum begins at approximately the 11-second mark.
Researchers arrived on the scene after hearing "fight sounds," Rabosky said in an email to HuffPost. At that time, it was too late for the opossum.
"When they looked, they saw that the tarantula was moving away with the opossum, which was still kicking weakly," he said. "Presumably, the spider venom took approximately one minute to fully immobilize the mammal."
And although many people are more or less horrified by the video (the university's own press release calls it "nightmare stuff"), Rabosky had a slightly different perspective.
"On one level, I understand why people find this strange: we usually fear things we do not understand, and spiders and centipedes fall directly into that category," he wrote in the email. "But it's a special human bias that leads us to think that this is somehow stranger than many other ways of dying: there's nothing nice about most predation, whether it comes from lions or peregrine falcons or crocodiles or anything else. "
He also noted that, like a bird or a jaguar, spiders also have to eat.
Instead of abject horror, he said, the team's findings left him with more than one "profound astonishment" about "how complex nature is", noting that there are still many facets that humans do not understand. all
And that is much more frightening than a tarantula chewing on a bush.
"We are influencing the planet at a very rapid pace, turning vast tracts of tropical forest into soybean farms and modifying even" intact "tropical forest with the invisible hand of climate change," he said. "However, we still do not understand even the most basic things about animals (and plants!) In rainforests like this."
You can read the researchers' full article, published last month in the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation magazine, here.