Weird History
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If You're Afraid Of Snakes, You Definitely Don't Want To See The Prehistoric 40-Foot-Long Titanoboa

Updated August 2, 2019 254.4k views12 items

When it comes to prehistoric predators, few match the Titanoboa, a 40-foot-long snake that weighed as much as a car. A cross between a boa constrictor and anaconda - but much bigger - the Titanoboa dominated the swamps about 60 million years ago. It even hunted the giant crocodiles of the prehistoric era. While today's anacondas have inspired many sci-fi horror movies, they look tiny next to the Titanoboa, which weighed roughly five times more than the largest anaconda. And the Titanoboa is only one of the many giant prehistoric animals that used to roam the earth. 

The coils of the Titanoboa could crush its prey with more force than the weight of the entire Brooklyn Bridge. And next time you read stories of snakes that doomed their owners, keep this in mind: the Titanoboa at rest on the ground was as tall as an adult's waist. There's plenty of facts about the Titanoboa you might not know, and this scary snake is sure to dominate your next nightmare. 

  • Photo: Special Collections of the University of Amsterdam/Iconographia Zoologica / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Experts Believe It Was The Largest Snake In History

    How big was the Titanoboa? Evolutionary biologist Harry Greene declares, "It is hands-down the largest snake ever confirmed." And the Titanoboa wasn't the only massive creature discovered in the Colombian coal mine, Carbones del Cerrejón, a hotbed for fossils. Giant crocodiles roamed the swampy territory with the Titanoboa; turtles hunted on the riverbanks; and every living thing tried to avoid the enormous snake.

    The fossilized bones stayed hidden in an active coal mine until 2009. 

  • Photo: 08pateldan / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    It Was Like A Boa Constrictor Crossed With An Anaconda, But Much Bigger

    Was the Titanoboa more like a boa constrictor or anaconda? Paleontologists Jonathan Bloch and Jason Head conducted research on the fossil remains to determine which modern snake bore the most similarities to the Titanoboa. Their answer: both. The Titanoboa appeared more like a boa constrictor, but acted similar to an anaconda, sticking to the water where it swam in tropical swamps. 

    But neither boa constrictors nor anacondas measure up to the Titanoboa. The prehistoric snake weighed more than a ton, and it was so thick that its body came up to an adult's waist.

  • It Was The Largest Predator On Earth After The Dinosaurs

    How did the Titanoboa grow to such an enormous size? For one, timing certainly helped. The Titanoboa appeared around five million years after dinosaurs became extinct, so it faced few large predators. The Titanoboa was likely Earth's apex predator at the time.

    As Jonathan Bloch, one of the paleontologists who discovered the snake, explains: 

    After the extinction of the dinosaurs, this animal, the Titanoboa, was the largest predator on the surface of the planet for at least 10 million years. This was a major animal in any sense of the imagination.

  • Its Mouth Held More Teeth Than That Of Today's Snakes

    When paleontologists Jason Head and Jonathan Bloch studied the massive skull of the Titanoboa, they noticed something unusual: the jawbone had more holes than they expected to find. From this, the researchers determined the Titanoboa possibly boasted even more teeth than today's snakes.

    Head speculates the Titanoboa may have specialized in grabbing fish with its many teeth, which makes sense considering its swampy habitat.