The largest prehistoric snake on record was discovered in Colombia, a Phys.org article said.
The article was published in 2009, but considering I do not recall hearing about this insane discovery, I thought it would be neat to resurrect the topic here.
Scientists recovered fossils of a 60-million-year-old South American snake in 2009. Named Titanoboa cerrejonensis by those who discovered it, this bad boy is believed to have weighed 2,500 pounds and measured 13 metres from nose to tail.
A bulk of the work involved with the discovery was conducted by Drs Jason Head and David Polly in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary, University of London. The researchers identified “the position of the fossil vertebrae which made a size estimate possible,” the article said.
The fossils were discovered in the Cerrejon Coal Mine in northern Colombia by crews led by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the University of Florida’s Florida Museum of Natural History. The research crews, in collaboration with Head, estimated what the Earth’s temperature in tropical South America would have been 60 million years ago based on the fossil size.
For a snake of this size to survive when it was alive, an average annual temperature of 30 to 34 degrees Celsius would have been necessary, Head and Dr. Jonathan Bloch, Assistant Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, estimated.
“Tropical ecosystems of South America were surprisingly different 60 million years ago,” said Bloch, in the article. “It was a rainforest, like today, but it was even hotter and the cold-blooded reptiles were all substantially larger. The result was, among other things, the largest snakes the world has ever seen… and hopefully ever will.”
This snake was categorized as a boine, a species of a non-venomous constrictor.
I’m not exactly sure how I would react if I were to stumble across a snake of this size in South America 60 million years ago, but I doubt I would stick around to find out.
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