(Gray News) – If you have a fear of spiders, it’s probably best to stop reading now.
University of Michigan researchers studying “predator-prey interactions in the Amazon rainforest” caught a giant tarantula dragging an opossum, presumably on its way to make a meal of it.
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.
“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.”
He said the tarantula was roughly the size of a “dinner plate.”
“Finding a spider eating another mammal was very unexpected,” Grundler added.
The researchers published their findings in a paper in the journal Amphibian & Reptile Conservation. They documented Amazonian arthropod predators preying on frogs, lizards and snakes, in addition to the startling possum example.
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.
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.”
Larson, with far steelier nerves than most people, described all this as “new and exciting.”
“I have not reached the level of being grossed out by any of it yet,” she said.