Scared of snakes? Be thankful that you weren’t alive in South America 58 million years ago. The aptly named Titanoboa was discovered in 2009 in Colombia’s Cerrejón coal fields. Paleontologists uncovered a cache of fossils from 28 individual snakes, impeccably preserved in coal shale. Before this discovery, scientists had only found small chunks of snake fossils from the Paleocene era.
The coal fields provided 28 individual fossils of the massive snakes, all completely terrifying. The largest fossil was about 42 feet long, and would have likely weighed about 2500 lbs. Today, the Cerrejón coal flats are one of the most productive coal operations in the world, employing over 10,000 Colombians. But 58 million years ago, the flats were a dense swamp jungle through which a mighty river caused, all of it teeming with life.
The area was full of massive turtles and ancient cousins of the crocodile, more beastly and ferocious than their terrifying contemporary relatives. But the Titanoboa emerged as the apex predator in the wake of the extinction of the dinosaurs, as climates shifted and the clawing push of life persisted.
While scientists had thought the temperature in that region was too cold to support a super-massive snake like the Titanoboa, the presence of the fossils indicates that either South America was a bit warmer than previously thought, or the snake’s sheer mass generated enough metabolic heat to make up the difference.
Fortunately, the Titanoboa was discovered by an intern of the Smithsonian institution, and they have a TV channel. Watch a clip of the Titanoboa now below!
Vancouver artist Charlie Brinson was so inspired by the prehistoric super-snake, he decided to fabricate his own metal baby Titanoboa. While it only measures 33 ft long, it moves like a snake, plus it’s shiny and metallic. But this baby Titanoboa is only the prototype. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, Brinson has begun construction on a full-sized, 50 foot long snake, which should be ready to fill your nightmares in 2015.
Check out the video below!