Thursday, February 5, 2009

World's largest snake - Fossilized remains

You think that today's anacondas are giant snakes but they were very small compared to snakes that lived 58 to 60 million years ago in tropical South America. For instance green anacondas can weight up to 250 kg while this gigantic snake weighed up to 1,140kg (2,500lb)with her 13 meter long body. Fossilized remains of this gigantic snake were found at Cerrejon, northern Columbia, one of the world's largest open-pit coal mines by the team of researchers led by Jason Head, from the University of Toronto at Mississauga, Canada.

Researchers do not know with sure what this predator had on menu but one thing is sure Titanoboa cerrejonensis (as this snake was named by researchers) needed to eat a lot, and her menu probably included not only big fish, but also alligators and even crocodiles since this snake just like anacondas today probably spent lot of time in water.

These ancient giant snakes were so big that even crocodiles were most likely among their prey, alongside alligators and big fish.
(JASON BOURQUE, AFP/Getty Images / February 4, 2009)

Researchers explain size of these giant snakes with high temperatures On Earth 50-60 millions ago as palaeontologists have long known that as temperatures go up and down over geological time, generally speaking, so does the upper size limit of cold-blooded creatures - such as snakes. They have also calculated that a snake of Titanoboa's size would have required an average annual temperature of 30C to 34C (86F to 93F) to survive. These temperatures were normal average temperature in northern Columbia 50-60 millions ago.

Today's average temperature in Northern Columbia of 28C is not enough for snakes to significantly grow in size but scientists believe as the Earth continues its warming in future, cold-blooded animals such as snakes are very likely to evolve larger bodies. This is definitely something we do not need in years to come. Anacondas already look too big to me:)