STL Science Center

STL Science Center

11 March 2017

The Gigantic Snake

The Titanic Boa is not necessarily a clever basis for a name, but Titanoboa cerrejonensis (specifically named for the Cerrejón Formation from which it was recovered) is exactly what its name implies: a titanic boa. The largest known snake (fossil or extant) was recovered from the coal mines of the Colombian region of La Guajira, a peninsula in the extreme northeastern portion of the country. An estimated 12.8 m (42 ft), Titanoboa was thought to weigh approximately 1,135 kg (2,500 lb); the largest extant snake is the Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) has an average length of 3.7 m (12 ft) and average weight of approximately 30.8 kg (68 lb). Titanoboa is hypothesized to have been largely piscivorous which would be unique among all boids, fossil and extant. As a boid, Titanoboa would have wrapped itself around its prey and killed using mechanical constriction. As an enormous snake, it would have been coiling itself around its prey to constrict it, meaning that the fish it was constricting must have been equally large, perhaps even titanic (could not resist, sorry).
©Vlad Konstantinov

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