Record-Size Snake Nothing to Hiss At

Paleontologists find the fossil remains of a huge snake in Colombia

12-01-2008 // Roger Di Silvestro

PALEONTOLOGISTS WORKING in Colombia have discovered the fossil remains of a snake so huge it is more like the main attraction of a low-budget horror film than a product of evolution. Only a dozen or so vertebrae—bones of the spine—have turned up, but they provide enough evidence to show that this creature, an as-yet unnamed relative of boa constrictors, was the largest snake species on record.

Sizing It Up

The really big constrictors of our world rarely exceed 30 feet long. The longest on record was a reticulated python that reached 33 feet. The record weight for a modern snake came from a green anaconda, which tipped the scales at 550 pounds (but was a couple feet shorter than the lither python).

The fossil serpent was built on a different order of magnitude. Jonathan Bloch, the University of Florida, Gainesville, paleontologist who, with colleagues, discovered the bones, estimates that this one would have measured no less than 42 feet long. Its body was probably close to 4 feet in diameter and weighed over 1.25 tons.

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