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Titanoboa on display at Washington D.C.

Temporal range: Palaeocene
Scientific classification

Head, 2009

Titanoboa cerrejonensis is the largest known snake.[1][2] Now extinct, the snake was a relative of the anaconda and the boa constrictor. It was about 43 feet long (13 m), and weighed over a ton (about 1135 kg or 2,500 pounds). The snake lived in the Palaeocene epoch, about 58 million years ago.[3][4] It ate crocodiles.

The fossil was found in an open-cast coal mine in Colombia, in 2009. Plant fossils at the site proved the climate at the time was a tropical rainforest. The site was in the Cerrejón Formation in La Guajira, Colombia. Other large reptile fossils have been found at this site.[1][3][5]

Researchers found three skulls of the snake in 2002. A life-size replica is on view at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. It was sent on a world tour to be shown at various museums.[6]

Habitat[change | change source]

Titanoboa lived in the first recorded tropical forest in South America. It shared the ecosystem with large Crocodylomorpha and large turtles. The paleogeography of the late Paleocene was a sheltered paralic (coastal) swamp, with an open connection to the proto-Caribbean in the north. In this environment tropical aquatic ferns like Salvinia flourished. The ferns were found as fossils in the Bogotá Formation and the Palermo Formation.[7]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Kwok, Roberta (2009). "Scientists find world's biggest snake". Nature. doi:10.1038/news.2009.80. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
  2. Previous record-holder was Gigantophis.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Head, Jason J.; et al. (2009). "Giant boid snake from the paleocene neotropics reveals hotter past equatorial temperatures". Nature. 457 (7230): 715–718. doi:10.1038/nature07671. PMID 19194448. S2CID 4381423. Retrieved 2009-02-05.
  4. O'Brien, Jane 2012. The giant snake that stalked the world. BBC News Magazine. [1]
  5. "Science Daily: At 2,500 pounds and 43 feet, prehistoric snake is largest on record". ScienceDaily. 2009-02-04. Retrieved 2009-02-06.
  6. "Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service - Titanoboa: Monster Snake". sitesarchives.si.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-22.[permanent dead link]
  7. Pérez Consuegra, Nicolás; Aura Cuervo Gómez; Camila Martínez; Camilo Montes; Fabiany Herrera; Santiago Madriñán, and Carlos Jaramillo 2017. Paleogene Salvinia (Salviniaceae) from Colombia and their paleobiogeographic implications. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 246. p85–108.