Gigantic 45ft snake that weighed as much as a car found by fossil hunters

Posted on 9:03 AM by Sameer Shah

A killer snake that was longer than a bus, as heavy as a small car and which could swallow an animal the size of a horse, has been discovered by scientists.

The 45 foot long monster - named Titanoboa - was so big that it lived on a diet of crocodiles and giant turtles, squeezing them to death and devouring them whole.

Weighing an impressive 1.25 tons, it slithered around the tropical forests of South America 60 million years ago, just five million years after the last dinosaurs were wiped out.

Partial skeletons of the boa constrictor-like prehistoric killer were found in an Colombian coal mine by an international team of fossil hunters.

They estimate that it was larger than the fictional snake featured in the Jennifer Lopez horror movie Anaconda.

Dr Jonathan Bloch of the University of Florida, one of the researchers who announced the find, said: 'Truly enormous snakes really spark people's imagination, but reality has exceeded the fantasies of Hollywood.

'The snake that tried to eat Jennifer Lopez in the movie Anaconda was not as big as the one we found.'

The fossilised remains were found in an open cast mine in Cerrejon, Columbia with turtles and crocodiles.

The creature lived during the Palaeocene epoch - the 10 million year period that followed the destruction of the dinosaurs by a giant asteroid or comet, and helps fill a missing gap in evolution, the scientists report today in the journal Nature.

Before the discover, there had been no fossil vertebrates - or animals with back bones - between 65 million and 55 million 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.

'The snake's body was so wide that if it were moving down the hall and decided to come into my office to eat me, it would literally have to squeeze through the door.'

The size of the snake showed that conditions were around 10C hotter than today - around 30 to 34C on average.

Snakes and other cold blooded animals are limited in body size by the temperature where they live.The largest reptiles and bugs live in the world's hottest places close to the equator.

Hunting for fossils is trick y in the forest-covered tropics because so little rock is exposed. However, the open cast mining exposed huge swaths of rock, including the remains of the prehistoric snake.

Dr Jonathan Bloch at the Florida Museum of Natural History, said: 'It was a rain-forest like today, but it was even hotter and the cold-blooded reptiles were all substantially larger. The result was, among other things, the largest snakes the world has ever seen - and hopefully ever will.'

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest snake ever measured was 33 feet in length. The heaviest - a python - weighed 403 pounds.

British scientist Dr David Polly who was involved in identifying the snake at Queen Mary, University of London, said: 'At its greatest width, the snake would have come up to about your hips. The size is pretty amazing.'

Last year scientists revealed the smallest snake in the world - a four inch long creature living in Barbados that is as thin as a strand of spaghetti and so tiny it could fit on a 10 pence coin.

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