Titanoboa returns! Smithsonia recreates world’s biggest snake – a 48-foot monster which ruled Earth after the dinosaurs
By Rob Waugh
PUBLISHED: 06:26 EST, 23 March 2012 | UPDATED: 06:31 EST, 23 March 2012
A terrifying 48-foot, 2,500lb predator that slithered through rainforests 60 million years ago has been brought back to life by the Smithsonian.
In the wake of the dinosaurs, other predators battled for supremacy. Titanoboa was the biggest – a huge snake that would dwarf any anaconda, and which is the undisputed largest in history.
The Smithsonian has recreated the terrifying beast in a new TV show which explores a question that puzzled scientists – why the snake grew so large.
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‘This is a find that seems so fantastic that it may appear to be an object of fantasy. A creature that has sprung from a Spielberg-imagined past and yes, it has a name that evokes a giant and mythic monster. It is called Titanoboa,’ David Royale, the Smithsonian Channel’s head of programming, announced.
The Smithsonian Channel has created a film that chronicles the discovery of the 48 foot long and 2,500 pound snake that existed more than 60 million years ago – and recreates what the predator might have looked like.
The film has been promoted with a life-size statue which was on show in New York’s Grand Central.
Dr. Jonathan Bloch, a paleontologist and curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History was part of the team that unearthed Titanoboa’s fossils.
The snake vertebrae were discovered in an area that is believed to have been an ancient rainforest from the Paleocene epoch.
Snake skulls are almost never found as they are extremely fragile and they usually disintegrate.
‘One of the questions we had was why did it get so large and we think that the answer is because it was much warmer in the tropics during that time.
‘Titanoboa was the largest predator on land after the extinction of the dinosaurs for at least 10 million years, maybe longer, so this was a major predator on the earth after the extinction of dinosaurs,’ Bloch explained.
The fossilised remains were found in an open cast mine in Cerrejon, Colombia with turtles and crocodiles.
The creature lived during the Palaeocene epoch – the 10million-year period that followed the destruction of the dinosaurs by a giant asteroid or comet, and helps fill a missing gap in evolution.
Before the discovery, there had been no fossil vertebrates – or animals with back bones – between 65million and 55million years ago in tropical South America.
Dr Jason Head, of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, in Washington DC, said: ‘Now we have a window into the time just after the dinosaurs went extinct and can actually see what the animals replacing them looked like.’
He added: ‘This colossal, boa constrictor-like creature stretched longer than a city bus and weighed more than a car. It’s the biggest snake the world has ever known.