Video: First documented case of a spider killing a possum

Credits : University of Michigan / YouTube

A giant spider has recently been filmed attacking a possum in the middle of the Amazon rainforest.  The is the very first documented video of a spider do away with a marsupial  in this way.  The details of this encounter have been published in the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation journal. 

The large majority of spiders feed off insects but some have a more varied diet.  Depending on the species, their diet can also feature birds, small mammals, reptiles or even fish.  Nevertheless, no one has ever before witnessed a spider attacking a possum, a small marsupial mammal.  However this is what happened in the Amazon rainforest in south eastern Peru. The team of researchers led by the evolutionist biologist Daniel Rabosky, were studying forest predator/prey interactions in the middle of the night when they came across this scene.

“Ecstatic and shocked”

“The possum had already been seized by the tarantula and was still fighting weakly…but after about 30 seconds, it stopped moving“, stated a member of the biological research team Michael Grundler.  He explained how the team were “quite ecstatic and shocked” about what they were seeing as it was unbelievable and they hadn’t expected something so special.  This observation is the first video documented sighting of this kind.

This immense Pamphobeteus spider, with a body about the size of a small plate (including the feet) attacked a young marmosops possum.  You can see the video below:

Hard law of the jungle

During their trip the researchers explained how they had also seen spiders chasing frogs, lizards, snakes and fish. They also documented centipede attacks on several vertebrae creatures.  One of these surprising attacks involved a massive centipede with 21 pairs of feet who was killing a coral snake.  “These are very dangerous snakes that can kill humans.  Seeing one being killed by a centipede was very surprising“, noted Joanna Larson, a co-author of the study.  “These centipedes are quite terrifying in fact.”

Spiders play a crucial role in our planet’s ecosystem regardless of how sorry we feel for the little possum. A recent study published a few months ago in the Science of Nature journal suggested that in the world spiders feed on about 800 million tonnes of prey each year.  So as to give you a precise idea this is two times more than humans.  By killing several hundred million tonnes of organisms per year it is clear that spiders play an essential role in maintaining our ecosystems.


Related articles:

Spider fossils that date back to the dinosaurs

A new African spider discovered with a horn on it’s back

For those who hate snake and spiders: behold this wonder of nature!