This illustration shows the size of the fossil snake.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of Jason Bourque, University of Florida

Prehistoric Fossil Snake is Largest on Record
News story originally written on February 4, 2009

Scientists discovered the fossils of a gigantic snake. It lived in South America 60 million years ago. It was longer than a school bus and weighed 1140 kilograms (2500 pounds). This snake was a constrictor, which means it would wrap its huge body around its prey before eating.

Scientists discovered the fossils of the snake in a coal mine in northern Colombia. They also looked for clues in the rocks to learn what the environment where the snake lived was like. They discovered that it was a tropical rainforest.

The tropical rainforests that were in South America 60 million years ago were very different than the rainforests that are there today. It was hotter then. Plus, the reptiles that lived there, like the snake, were much larger.

Places with warmer temperatures tend to be home for larger cold-blooded animals. This means that when Earth’s climate is warmer, the cold-blooded animals are larger. The scientists say that this fossil snake’s size means that the temperature was five degrees Celsius warmer than today’s tropical rainforests.

Last modified March 27, 2009 by Lisa Gardiner.

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