Remains of Massive Prehistoric Snake Discovered in Columbia

By: The Scribe on Monday, May 2, 2011

Some modern snakes can reach lengths of over 30 feet which may seem massive when compared to other animals. The remains of a prehistoric constrictor, which has been named Titanoboa cerrejonensis is more massive by far than any snake that is now living. The name comes from the fact that the remains were found at the Cerrejon Coal Mine which is located in northern Columbia. The discovery was made in 2008.

This massive snake lived approximately 65 million years agoThe snake lived approximately 60 million years ago. Remains indicate that when full grown, these creatures could achieve lengths of 42 feet (13 meters) or more and could weigh up to 2,500 pounds (1,135 kilograms) making it approximately twice the size of any modern snake and similar in weight to a small car. It had a diameter of approximately three feet. To put the size in more perspective, this meant that the snake was roughly as long as a T-Rex. Modern-day anacondas have been measured at lengths of up to 28 feet and girths of up to 44 inches.

The snake’s remains were found in Columbia. They were discovered by an international team of scientists. The remains are being studied at the University of Florida. It was a bit of a miracle that scientists were able to discover the snake due to the area where it lived. The tropics are a difficult place to find fossils. This is due to the fact that much of the area is covered by a forest and this makes it difficult to find the usual kinds of exposed rocks where fossils are usually located.

The snake killed its prey in the same way that modern constrictors do. It would wrap around any animal that it caught and would squeeze it until the creature suffocated. This would have been a slow death and not a particularly comfortable one.

Titanoboa lived in the time immediately after the dinosaurs became extinct. Other fossils that were found in the area surrounding Titanoboa’s remains showed that the snake likely ate animals such as giant turtles and prehistoric crocodiles. This image shows how much larger Titanoboa was compared to modern anacondas

The discovery of Titanoboa is important because it gives scientists an idea of what the world was like after the dinosaurs became extinct. Scientists have made educated guesses but the fact that there are few vertebrate fossils available that are known to be from this time period. The fact that the snake was able to reach such a large size is also important because it shows what the climate would have been like during this time period. A snake or other cold blooded creature can only grow to a certain point under certain environmental conditions. A larger snake or other reptile would have meant that the environment was warmer than it is today.

It also shows that the current ecosystem that was in place in the area is very similar to the one that is present today. Remains of the ancestors of modern day reptiles such as snakes, turtles and crocodiles were discovered showing that the current ecosystem was around for at least 65 million years. Because of this, scientists feel that the discovery of Columbian fossils may have been one of the most exciting and valuable discoveries to date.


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