Speaking of giant reptiles, we often imagine Boas or Anacondas. Scientists have long assumed that there were larger animals of this class in the prehistoric world. Thanks to an unexpected archaeological site, these assumptions were scientifically proven as late as 2009. And now we know precisely what the Titanoboa snake is - the largest snake that has ever existed on our planet.
Sensational Archaeological Site
In 2009, fossils of giant snakes were found during excavations in Colombia's coal mines. The remains were in good enough condition and allowed to study a beast previously unknown to science in detail. Experts managed to collect and restore the complete skeleton of the snake.
Ancient reptiles belong to the Paleocene epoch. The giant snake is called "Titanoboa Cerrejonensis," which literally translates as "giant Boa." Cerrejonensis is the place where is it was discovered. Scientists point out that these monsters appeared about 10 million years after the dinosaurs. It turned out that the giant reptile lived in what is now Colombia, about 60 million years ago.
What Was The Length Of The Titanoboa Snake?
Fossils found during archeological excavations allowed scientists to completely reconstruct the appearance and size of the outstanding ancient monster. Scientists have discovered that the Titanoboa snake reached a length of 15 meters. The thickness of the trunk of the reptile is superior to the waist of the average person. In their thickest trunk circumference, snakes can reach 100 centimeters.
Its oral cavity had a structure that allowed it to swallow prey that exceeded its width. The mouth opened almost to a horizontal state, causing the dead victim to fall directly into the food canal.
Titanoboa snakes had large shells preserved in layers next to the remains in the form of prints. It was covered entirely with these shells, including its massive head. The Titanoboa had pronounced fangs, a vast upper jaw, and a movable lower jaw. The snake's eyes were small, and the nasal passages were barely visible.
The head was large compared to the rest of the body. This is due to the size of the prey that the Titanoboa ate. The body was of uneven thickness: after the head began the peculiarly thin cervical vertebrae, after which the snake thickened to the middle and then narrowed towards the tail.
Of course, the individuals were not preserved to determine the snake's color. But scientists believe that the bright color was not characteristic of animals from its habitat. Titanoboa snake led a secret lifestyle and had camouflage paint. Most of all, its color was reminiscent of a modern python - a dark green shell and dark ring-shaped spots all over the body.
Titanoboa snake's direct descendants are the modern Boas. Apparently, the old monster both intertwined and compressed in what ended a fatal embrace of its prey. However, in the manner of eating, the Titanoboa snake resembles more the modern Anaconda. This reptile could swallow almost all animals and be at the top of the food chain. According to experts, the weight of a good dinner of a Titanoboa snake could be more than 1 ton.
Character And Lifestyle Characteristics
The Titanoboa snakes led a secret, solitary way of life. Their enormous size and physical strength were compensated because the snake was inactive on land, so it preferred to hide in the water. The Titanoboa snake spent most of its time buried in the mud and waiting for possible prey - large fish that would not notice the lurking predator.
Like Anacondas and Boas, the Titanoboa snake also aimed to conserve energy. It moved when it was hungry after long digestion of old food. It fished mostly in the water but could swim near the mainland, hiding on edge.
When animals of suitable size reached the watering hole, the Titanoboa snake reacted immediately and killed them. The snake rarely crawled ashore, doing so only on rare occasions.
At the same time, the Titanoboa snake was not characterized by excessive aggression. If the snake was full, it did not attack fish or animals, even if they were nearby. Also, the Titanoboa could have been prone to cannibalism, which confirms its solitary lifestyle.
There is a possibility that these snakes were purely territorial beings. They could defend their territory from other Titanoboa snakes because the food supplies of these snakes were limited due to their size.
Interesting Facts About The Snake Bearer Record
Like its descendants, the Titanoboa snake was not poisonous. Due to its size and muscle development, creeping was an easy way to handle adult alligators.
The discovery of the fossil remains of a giant Titanoboa snake allowed studying the climatic conditions in animal habitat areas. Most researchers claim that this snake prefers warm and humid tropical climates.
Some experts, on the contrary, believe that the average annual temperature in the studied area has risen by several degrees over the past million years. The Titanoboa snake produced significant heat during the processing of food, thus increasing its internal temperature. This means hot climates would not have been so favorable for this creature after all.
Scientists agree that the Titanoboa snake could hunt in water and on land. Despite their fantastic size, these reptiles could move just as fast as their modern descendants. This means that if the Titanoboa snake chose an animal as prey, it hardly had any chance of survival.
Titanoboa Snake In Arts And Popular Culture
Legends about giant snakes are present in the cultural traditions of many countries. Who knows, maybe our ancestors occasionally met with the descendants of Titanoboa snake surpassing the size of the modern Boas?
The skeleton of the giant ancient snake is on display today in the New York Museum, and anyone can witness its magnificence in actual size. The National Museum of History, Washington, also has stunning sculptures. A Titanoboa snake is swallowing an alligator in the middle of the exhibition space.
The National Geographic Society has created a detailed documentary about the giant reptile. Titanoboa appears in contemporary art in the form of an ancient creepy monster. For example, this snake can be seen in the second episode of the series Primeval: New World.
Are There Titanoboa Snakes Lurking Today?
Recently, a bold hypothesis has appeared claiming that there is a giant snake hiding somewhere. What if animals like the Titanoboa snake still live in the least explored parts of our planet? Even eminent scientists have made such an assumption from time to time. However, this is not confirmed to this date.
World snake champions continue to be the Boa and Anaconda. Descendants of the legendary Titanoboa - modern pythons - are usually 10 meters long. Anaconda is considered the heaviest snake; an individual can weigh up to 95 pounds. Compared to the current giant snake, the Anaconda, the Titanoboa snake was twice as long and four times heavier.
However, try to imagine the ancient giants, despite the modern scary image of snakes. The Titanoboa snake exceeded the length of a standard passenger bus and could easily swallow an adult human.