Fossils found of 42-foot-long snake

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Researchers have unveiled fossils of the world's largest snake, a 42-foot-long relative of the boa constrictor. Paleontologists from the University of Toronto dubbed the species Titanoboa cerrejonensis for the Cerrejón region of northern Colombia where they found the remains. From Science News:
Analyses of the rocks surrounding the Titanoboa fossils suggest that the behemoth lived on coastal plains in a wet tropical rainforest, the same type of environment frequented today by anacondas, paleontologist Jason Head of the University of Toronto in Mississauga, Ontario, and his colleagues report.

However, the researchers speculate, the climate in which Titanoboa lived was much hotter than today’s. The maximum body size that a snake species can reach is related to the average annual temperature of the environment in which it lives.
"Giant Snakes Scary, But Useful As Climate Calibrators" (Science News) "Snake Longer Than School Bus Discovered!" (Cryptomundo)


  1. Answer 1: “Anything it wanted to.”

    Answer 2: “A lot, presumably.”

    Answer 3: “Given how much it probably had to eat, I suspect it ate anything that came within reach.”

    Then again, elephants seem to be able to keep themselves fed, and this thing’s presumably only a few elephants in mass…

  2. The Titanoboa cerrejonensis was a specialized hunter favoring the ferocious and wily sabre-toothed pinky.

  3. I saw that movie, and there wasn’t nearly enough Feedback in it.

    (I can’t be the only person who suffered through Mega Snake, right?)

  4. I’ve heard that some students at the University of Toronto are fans of snakes; I find that in light of this potential conflict of interest we should exercise more skepticism not only of whether this was a snake, but also whether its measurement of 42-feet is a distortion of the facts to garner more mainstream media attention and win the favor of the public.

  5. I think, rather than use an unsubstantiated rumour, and use that to cast aspersion on the validity of the conclusion, we should accept that this has been substantiated by long hard peer reviewed process.

    “In total, scientists discovered 180 vertebrae and ribs that represent the 28 individual snakes. Of the 28 snakes, scientists found one or two vertebrae for some and 50 to 60 for others.”

  6. Whats with the new knee-jerk reaction to scientific news? First off, if you consider that giant lizards, mammals and insects (giant by today’s standards) roamed the earth not too long ago, and some very long ago, what’s sensational about a giant snake?

    I flip through various science newsletters when they report a new idea being published that may shift some of our understanding of things, and the responses in the comments literally drip bile and smug. These are not even controversial reports and the reactions are in the realm of “I can’t believe that a reputable paper would ever report this…” as if they publishing a study on UFOs and not research into how DNA is affected by sugar molecules.

  7. ‘Hmmm, if we warm the global climate enough can we hope to see something like this return or develop anew?’ – and thus the next horrible snake movie for the Sci-Fi channel was written…

  8. @9
    That would be because most people have developed the strategy of concealing their ignorance behind a wall of righteous indignation. When a person responds so pessimistically to a reputable and/or uncontroversial report, it’s safe to assume that person doesn’t fully comprehend what’s being said.

  9. So global warming leads to giant snakes? Sweet! Or not so sweet if you don’t like giant snakes, I guess.

  10. Fossils like this, discovered before the science of paleontology emerged, couldn’t possibly have spawned fantastic tales of dragons.

  11. Alleging that people who know people who like snakes have a conflict of interest was suposta be silly … ( ._.)

  12. “The maximum body size that a snake species can reach is related to the average annual temperature of the environment in which it lives.”
    Great, something else caused by global warming to look forward to.

  13. If anyone’s interested in extinct big snakes, I’d suggest Darren Naish’s blog. He’s gone through some of the literature on them.

    The knee-jerk skepticism in this case is due to the large size of the animal; there are serious difficulties in projecting the size of extremely large animals based on existing species. In this case, I’m just going to say that it’s probably because it’s hard to tell just how chunky these things were, and length gets hard to guess.

  14. I’ll bet some of the people having a hard time er… digesting that snakes were this large are also the ones who have no problem at all believing a snake talked to the first couple of humans. -Just sayin’.

    Perhaps the Lizard King knew what he was talking about in The End…

  15. I thought megafauna back then may have enjoyed a higher oxygen content in the atmosphere as well too. Leastways, that’s how I remember it.

    Easy to believe, 42 feet long, waist high, not a lot bigger than the biggest croc on record these days (GustafF? can’t remember exactly). It would only have to eat twice a year and spend the rest of the time lying around farting.

  16. We must use the “Lost” technology to go back in time and prevent the Earth from being warm enough to engender these super snakes.

    Failure to do so would lead to be it being all Venusy now, due to the tipping point!

  17. @seijihyouronka

    I didn’t want that to come across as a personal attack. It was just an opportunity to ask a good question that’s been sitting on my mind. Although, I can see the point you are making now.

  18. Aaah, Prester, last time we passed a “tipping point”, the Ice Age came.
    No predicting what could happen if you keep burning oil/coal: that uncertainty itself is included, in a very high potential future price for very little present gains: for the convenience of a quickly-passing (as all are) generation, of moving around faster than otherwise.
    Opposing changes to reduce the risk is not conservatism , not by a large shot.

  19. The snake is, incidentally, 13 metres long, as this rather essential information had been left out of the story.

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