Titanoboa Largest Snake Ever

March 25, 2012 by staff 

Titanoboa Largest Snake Ever, “Bigger. Badder. Boa,” declares the banner of the swanky Smithsonian titanoboa exhibit in Grand Central Station, New York City. The replica of the ancient, and, thankfully for humans, extinct, snake measures 48 feet long. Its diameter is that of a manhole.

The sinewy hulk currently lies on the cold marble of Grand Central, jaw-loosened, draconic head arcing back as it swallows a spiny crocodile, its hexagonal scales gleaming with venue lighting and overhead chandeliers.

The replica of the 2,500-pound snake was unveiled today at the commuter hub to stimulate public interest in science, and promote the Smithsonian’s more extensive titanoboa exhibit in D.C., which opens next week.

Bones of the titanoboa were first discovered in a Colombian coal mine by a team of paleontologists led by Jonathan Bloch of University of Florida and Carlos Jaramillo of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. They minted the snake’s name, and published their discovery in 2009. Their discovery trumped that of the Eocene epoch’s Gigantophis as the largest snake ever discovered.

Comparison to modern snakes is even starker. The world’s longest snake, the reticulate python, stretches a little more than half the length of the titanoboa. The green anaconda, the world’s heaviest snake, is about a tenth of its weight.

Primeval hugeness isn’t exclusive to snakes, either. Prehistoric animals seemed to have been much, much larger than they are today. The plant-eating Argentinosaurus is thought to have measured more than 100 feet long and weighed over 100 tons. The Quetzalcoatlus had a 45-foot wingspan. The water-bound Icththysaur was roughly 50 feet long, weighing 30 tons, a rough hybrid of a dolphin and a blue whale. The Ground Sloth was the size of today’s elephant.

What’s with this trend? Do we know why prehistory was so redolent with animals that dwarf those we see today?

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