Titanoboa: The Largest Snake the World Has Ever Known

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The Earth has seem some truly monstrous creatures throughout time, but few can match the staggering proportions of this super snake.

At over 42 feet long and weighing over 2,500 pounds, Titanoboa is the largest snake the world has ever known. The colossal reptile reigned supreme in the hot, tropical conditions of South America more than 60 million years ago following the decline of the dinosaurs, say paleontologists who discovered its fossils in a Colombian coal mine in 2007.

Analyzing fossil pieces from 28 different snakes in an open coal pit, researchers concluded that the snake’s closest relative is the boa constrictor, hence the name. And like its cousin, it would have killed its prey by crushing it first — except the force would have been equivalent to lying under the weight of one-and-a-half times the Brooklyn Bridge, the BBC reports.

The snake is so massive that the thickest part of its body would nearly reach a human’s waist, according to Smithsonian magazine.

Titanoboa eating a crocodile. Photo by Ryan Somma.

By comparison, the largest living snakes currently living are anacondas and pythons, which rarely exceed 15 to 20 feet. That’s less than half the size of a Titanoboa — and either would’ve been easy prey for one.

Relative size of Titanoboa to the modern human, Gigantophis, reticulated python, and green anaconda. By Gamma 124Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

A cold-blooded snake that size would have needed lots of energy from its environment, and researchers estimate the temperatures in the tropics back then were much higher, averaging 86 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit (30 to 34 degrees Celsius.) Although some biophysicists have repudiated this idea.

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Click here to check out some of the other most amazingly massive prehistoric predators ever discovered.