Titanoboa cerrejonensis was a species of
giant snake that lived during in the Paleocene epoch
of the Paleogene period, between about 60 and 58 million years ago.
Fossils of the snake
have been found in coal mines in the Cerrejón region of
Colombia - at the time that the snake
was alive, this was a region of tropical rainforests.
The largest species of snakes currently known to science is
Python reticulatus in which adults grow up to 32 feet (10 meters) long.
Titanboa is estimated however to grown up to 43 feet (13 meters) long, had
a diameter of over 3 feet (1 meter), and weighed more than 1 ton.
Titanoboa was non-venomous and is believed to be related to the modern
family of Boas (which are today found in Central and South America, Africa,
and Asia), including the Boa constrictor.
Titanoboa would probably have been an ambush predator,
laying in wait, and then suddenly springing into
action when prey approached.
Like its modern relatives, Titanoboa
would have killed its prey using constriction
(tightening itself around them until they suffocated)
- however while its living relatives
mostly eat small mammals, birds and reptiles, Titanoboa probably would have
eaten crocodiles and large turtles.
Titanoboa was only discovered in 2009,
by an expedition led by
Jonathan Bloch and Carlos Jaramillo, and its discovery was announced to the world by a paper published in
Nature in February
The name "Titanoboa" means "Titan [i.e. large] boa", and "cerrejonensis" is of course
derived from the region in which the snake was found.
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