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. 

  • It Was Considerably Longer Than The Modern-Day Anaconda

    Researchers used the snake's fossilized vertebrae to determine its total length. The Titanoboa has the distinction of being the largest snake known to researchers, with an estimated length of between 42 and 49 feet. The paleontologists who worked on the Titanoboa found evidence proving they didn't simply find a fluke huge snake: the vertebrae discovered at Cerrejón, which date to around 60 million years ago, consisted of many fragments.

    Initially, researchers believed the numerous fossil pieces came from more than 20 different animals. They later realized the bones likely derived from one source, however: the Titanoboa's exceptionally large vertebrae.

    All the fossils show the snake dwarfed its modern descendants, including the anaconda and boa constrictor.

  • Photo: Friedrich Specht / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    It Likely Hunted Giant Crocodiles

    Nothing in the prehistoric swamp was safe from the Titanoboa. The snake was enormous and dominated its environment, but it was not venomous. It required no venom to seek some of its largest prey: crocodiles. As paleontologist Jason Head points out, "Some snakes - especially anacondas - can and do eat crocodilians."

    The Titanoboa also dined on fish and turtles, placing it at the top of the swamp food chain. 

  • It Crushed Its Prey

    Instead of venom, the Titanoboa used its massive size to dominate other creatures, including crocodiles. The snake, which weighed in at roughly 2,500 pounds, ground its prey. The Titanoboa boasted a constricting force of 400 pounds per square inch.

    In other words, imagine the weight of the entire Brooklyn Bridge overwhelming your body, and then add a little more.

     

  • It Thrived After The Dinosaurs Went Extinct

    The era of the dinosaurs came to an abrupt end around 65 million years ago, when a meteor strike likely caused a mass event. For several million years, life on Earth struggled to return to land. The Titanoboa represents one of the first reptiles to emerge after the dinosaurs, claiming their former status and becoming the largest living land creature.

    As mammals lagged behind in size, the Titanoboa and other massive reptiles ruled the earth 60 million years ago. But the Titanoboa went extinct after a few million years. Scientists believe its extinction occurred as a result of decreasing global temperatures and the decline of Paleocene rainforests.