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|Giant Colombian Snake - Titanoboa cerrejonensis|
|Topic Started: Jan 8 2012, 04:42 PM (1,858 Views)|
|Taipan||Jan 8 2012, 04:42 PM Post #1|
Giant Colombian Snake - Titanoboa cerrejonensis
Species: Titanboa cerrejonensis
Era - Paleocene Epoch, a 10-million-year period immediately following the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago
Known Distribution : Columbia
Length - 13 metres (42ft) from nose to tail, in a range of 10.64-15 metres.
Weight (estimate) - 1,140kg (2,500lb), with a range of 730kg to 2.03 tonnes.
Diet : giant turtles and primitive crocodiles
STUNNED scientists have found the fossilised remains of the world's greatest snake - a record-busting serpent that was as long as a bus and snacked on crocodiles.
The boa-like behemoth ruled the tropical rainforests of what is now Colombia some 60 million years ago, at a time when the world was far hotter than now, they report in a study released today.
The size of the snake's vertebrae suggest the beast weighed some 1.135 tonnes, in a range of 730kg to 2.03 tonnes.
And it measured 13 metres (42ft) from nose to tail, in a range of 10.64-15 metres, they estimate.
"Truly enormous snakes really spark people's imagination, but reality has exceeded the fantasies of Hollywood," said Jonathan Block, a vertebrate palaeontologist at the University of Florida, who co-led the work.
"The snake that tried to eat Jennifer Lopez in the movie Anaconda is not as big as the one we found.
This artist's rendering of Titanoboa cerrejonensis demonstrates the great snake's size. It is anticipated the boa spent much of its life in or near water.
"At its greatest width, the snake would have come up to about your hips," said David Polly, a geologist at the University of Indiana at Bloomington.
The investigators found the remains of the new species at an unlikely location - one of the world's biggest open-cast coal mines, in Cerrejon, Colombia, where giant machines had obligingly gnawed away surface layers of dirt.
Working as huge coal-laden trucks thundered by, the team sifted through the earth, laying bare the remains of supersized snakes and their likely prey - extinct species of crocodiles and giant turtles - and evidence that a massive rainforest once covered the ground.
"The giant Colombian snake is a truly exciting discovery. For years, herpetologists have argued about just how big snakes can get, with debatable estimates of the max somewhere less than 40 feet" (12.3 metres), said leading snake expert Harry Greene of Cornell University, New York.
Titanoboa cerrejonensis - whose Latin name honours the coal mine - is not only a source of jaw-dropping wonder.
It is also a useful indicator as to the world's climate after the dinosaurs were wiped out some 65 million years ago, the team say.
Unlike mammals, reptiles cannot regulate their own temperature.
As a result, they are limited in body size by the ambient temperature of where they live. For example, reptiles today are bigger in the tropics than they are in cooler latitudes.
Based on T cerrejonensis, the scientists calculate that the mean annual temperature in equatorial South America 60 million years ago would have been 30-34 degrees Celsius.
That makes it around 3-4C hotter than tropical rainforests today.
If so, this is a welcome piece of news about climate change.
Simulations about global warming suggest that, on present trends, the world's surface temperatures could rise by between 1.8-4.0C by 2100.
If the supersnakes are a guide, tropical rain forests could still exist at such temperatures, although a fast, massive rise in warming could well be devastating to many species.
The paper is published by the British-based weekly science journal Nature.
The world's longest snake today is the Asian reticulated python, specimens of which can grow around 10 metres, and the biggest in terms of mass is the green anaconda, with some specimens weighing 227kg.
Big snakes have big backbones. The extinct boine snake's vertebra (right) would have dwarfed that of a 17-foot (5-meter) modern anaconda (left).
The vertebra of the extinct Titanoboa snake is enormous even compared with today's Python regius.
|Taipan||Jan 12 2012, 08:03 PM Post #2|
World's Biggest Snake Lived in 1st "Modern" Rain Forest
for National Geographic News
October 13, 2009
If it were still alive today, the largest snake ever known to have lived would feel right at home in South America's tropical rain forests.
That's because the modern ecosystem contains many of the same plants that grew in the massive serpent's home turf some 60 million years ago, according to a new study detailing the earliest known "modern" rain forest.
The study is based on more than 2,000 fossil leaves recently discovered in Colombia's Cerrejón coal mine—the same place where scientists had found fossils of Titanoboa cerrejonesis earlier this year.
Many of the newfound plant fossils are of palm, legume, and flowering species that still dominate South America's rain forests, said study team member Scott Wing, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
"That was kind of surprising," Wing said. "What we're seeing here is the first modern rain forest that we have any record of."
Based on the fossil leaves, scientists think Titanoboa's rain forest was a few degrees warmer and contained fewer plant species than the modern version.
This lower diversity could be evidence that the ancient forests were still recovering from the catastrophic event that killed off the dinosaurs some five million years earlier, the scientists say.
The team thinks a dino-killer asteroid may have struck several hundred miles away from Colombia, in what is now Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. Such an impact could have triggered forest fires and worldwide climate change.
In fact, pollen fossils from before the impact show that South America's dino-era forests were dramatically different from the tropical rain forests Titanoboa called home.
The plant species that existed alongside the world's largest snake were so successful that many of them survived to the modern day.
Fossil leaves found in a Colombian coal mine closely resemble plants that grow today in the rain forests of South America, scientists announced in October 2009.
The ancient plants represent the first "modern" tropical rain forest, which was home to the world's largest snake, the team reported.
|Taipan||Jan 12 2012, 08:03 PM Post #3|
Ancient Crocodile Relative Likely Food Source for Titanoboa, Largest Snake Ever Known
ScienceDaily (Feb. 3, 2010) — A 60-million-year-old relative of crocodiles described recently by University of Florida researchers in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology was likely a food source for Titanoboa, the largest snake the world has ever known.
Working with scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, paleontologists from the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus found fossils of the new species of ancient crocodile in the Cerrejon Formation in northern Colombia. The site, one of the world's largest open-pit coal mines, also yielded skeletons of the giant, boa constrictor-like Titanoboa, which measured up to 45 feet long. The study is the first report of a fossil crocodyliform from the same site.
"We're starting to flesh out the fauna that we have from there," said lead author Alex Hastings, a graduate student at the Florida Museum and UF's department of geological sciences.
Specimens used in the study show the new species, named Cerrejonisuchus improcerus, grew only 6 to 7 feet long, making it easy prey for Titanoboa. Its scientific name means small crocodile from Cerrejon.
The findings follow another study by researchers at UF and the Smithsonian providing the first reliable evidence of what Neotropical rainforests looked like 60 million years ago.
While Cerrejonisuchus is not directly related to modern crocodiles, it played an important role in the early evolution of South American rainforest ecosystems, said Jonathan Bloch, a Florida Museum vertebrate paleontologist and associate curator.
"Clearly this new fossil would have been part of the food-chain, both as predator and prey," said Bloch, who co-led the fossil-hunting expeditions to Cerrejon with Smithsonian paleobotanist Carlos Jaramillo. "Giant snakes today are known to eat crocodylians, and it is not much of a reach to say Cerrejonisuchus would have been a frequent meal for Titanoboa. Fossils of the two are often found side-by-side."
The concept of ancient crocodyliforms as snake food has its parallel in the modern world, as anacondas have been documented consuming caimans in the Amazon. Given the ancient reptile's size, it would have been no competition for Titanoboa, Hastings said.
Cerrejonisuchus improcerus is the smallest member of Dyrosauridae, a family of now-extinct crocodyliforms. Dyrosaurids typically grew to about 18 feet and had long tweezer-like snouts for eating fish. By contrast, the Cerrejon species had a much shorter snout, indicating a more generalized diet that likely included frogs, lizards, small snakes and possibly mammals.
"It seems that Cerrejonisuchus managed to tap into a feeding resource that wasn't useful to other larger crocodyliforms," Hastings said.
The study reveals an unexpected level of diversity among dyrosaurids, said Christopher A. Brochu, a paleontologist and associate professor in geosciences at the University of Iowa.
"This diversity is more evolutionarily complex than expected," said Brochu, who was not involved in the study. "A limited number of snout shapes evolved repeatedly in many groups of crocodyliforms, and it appears that the same is true for dyrosaurids. Certain head shapes arose in different dyrosaurid lineages independently."
Dyrosaurids split from the branch that eventually produced the modern families of alligators and crocodiles more than 100 million years ago. They survived the major extinction event that killed the dinosaurs but eventually went extinct about 45 million years ago. Most dyrosaurids have been found in Africa, but they occur throughout the world. Prior to this finding, only one other dyrosaurid skull from South America had been described.
Scientists previously believed dyrosaurids diversified in the Paleogene, the period of time following the mass extinction of dinosaurs, but this study reinforces the view that much of their diversity was in place before the mass extinction event, Brochu said. Somehow dyrosaurids survived the mass extinction intact while other marine reptile groups, such as mosasaurs and plesiosaurs, died out completely.
The crocodyliform's diminutive size came as a surprise, Hastings said, especially considering the giant reptiles that lived during the Late Cretaceous. The fossil record also points to the possibility of other types of ancient crocodyliforms inhabiting the same ecosystem. "In a lot of these tropical, diverse ecosystems in which crocodyliforms can thrive, you often see multiple snout types," he said. "They tend to start speciating into different groups."
On Feb. 1, 2010, Alex Hastings, a graduate student at UF’s Florida Museum of Natural History, measures a jaw fragment from an ancient relative of crocodiles that lived 60 million years ago. The fossil came from the same site in Colombia as fossils of Titanoboa, indicating the crocodyliform was a likely food source for the giant snake.
|Taipan||Jan 12 2012, 08:04 PM Post #4|
|Taipan||Jan 12 2012, 08:04 PM Post #5|
Ancient Crocodile Competed With Titanoboa, World's Largest Snake, for Food, Paleontologists Discover
ScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2011) — Did an ancient crocodile relative give the world's largest snake a run for its money?
In a new study appearing Sept. 15 in the journal Palaeontology, University of Florida researchers describe a new 20-foot extinct species discovered in the same Colombian coal mine with Titanoboa, the world's largest snake. The findings help scientists better understand the diversity of animals that occupied the oldest known rainforest ecosystem, which had higher temperatures than today, and could be useful for understanding the impacts of a warmer climate in the future.
The 60-million-year-old freshwater relative to modern crocodiles is the first known land animal from the Paleocene New World tropics specialized for eating fish, meaning it competed with Titanoboa for food. But the giant snake could have consumed its competition, too, researchers say.
"The younger individuals were definitely not safe from Titanoboa, but the biggest of these species would have been a bit much for the 42-foot snake to handle," said lead author Alex Hastings, a graduate student at the Florida Museum of Natural History and UF's department of geological sciences.
The new species is a dyrosaurid, commonly believed to be primarily ocean-dwelling, coastal reptiles. The new adult specimens challenge previous theories the animals only would have entered freshwater environments as babies before returning to sea.
Fossils of a partial skeleton of the species, Acherontisuchus guajiraensis, show dyrosaurids were key players in northeastern Colombia and that diversity within the family evolved with environmental changes, such as an asteroid impact or the appearance of competitors from other groups, said Christopher Brochu, an associate professor of vertebrate paleontology in the department of geoscience at the University of Iowa, who was not involved in the study.
"We're facing some serious ecological changes now," Brochu said. "A lot of them have to do with climate and if we want to understand how living things are going to respond to changes in climate, we need to understand how they responded in the past. This really is a wonderful group for that because they managed to survive some catastrophes, but they seemed not to survive others and their diversity does seem to change along with these ecological signals."
The species is the second ancient crocodyliform found in the Cerrejon mine of northern Colombia, one of the world's largest open-pit coal mines. The excavations were led by study co-authors Jonathan Bloch, Florida Museum associate curator of vertebrate paleontology, and paleobotanist Carlos Jaramillo of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
"This one is related to a group that typically had these long snouts" Hastings said. "It would have had a relatively similar diet to the other (coastal) species, but surprisingly it lived in a more freshwater environment."
The genus is named for the river Acheron from Greek mythology, "the river of woe," since the animal lived in a wide river that emptied into the Caribbean. Unlike the first crocodile relative found in the area, which had a more generalized diet, the snout of the new species was long, narrow and full of pointed teeth, showing a specialization for hunting the lungfish and relatives of bonefish that inhabited the water.
"The general common wisdom was that ancestrally all crocodyliforms looked like a modern alligator, that all of these strange forms descended from a more generalized ancestor, but these guys are showing that sometimes one kind of specialized animal evolved from a very different specialized animal, not a generalized one," Brochu said. "It's really showing us a level of complexity to the history that 10 years ago was not anticipated."
During the Paleocene in South America, the environment was dominated by reptiles, including giant snakes, turtles and crocodiles. The dyrosaurid family originated in Africa about 75 million years ago, toward the end of the age of dinosaurs, and arrived in South America by swimming across the Atlantic Ocean.
"The same thing that snuffed out the dinosaurs killed off most of the crocodiles alive at the time," Hastings said. "The dyrosaurids are one of the few groups to survive the extinction and later become more successful."
Top left: University of Florida researchers Jonathan Bloch, left, and Alex Hastings unearth fossils from the 60-million-year-old Cerrejon formation in northeastern Colombia, one of the world's largest open-pit coal mines. Top right: Hastings displays a pelvic bone of Acherontisuchus guajiraensis, a 60-million-year-old ancestor of crocodiles discovered at the same site in northeastern Colombia as Titanoboa, the world's largest snake. Other fossils pictured include portions of the lower and upper jaw, as well as teeth, a rib and toe. Bottom: This illustration shows how Acherontisuchus guajiraensis would have looked in its natural setting. Titanoboa, the world's largest snake, is pictured in the background.
Alexander K. Hastings, Jonathan I. Bloch, Carlos A. Jaramillo. A New Longirostrine Dyrosaurid (Crocodylomorpha, Mesoeucrocodylia) from the Paleocene of North-Eastern Colombia: Biogeographic and Behavioural Implications for New-World Dyrosauridae. Palaeontology,, 2011; 54 (5): 1095-1116 DOI: [url]10.1111/j.1475-4983.2011.01092.x[/url]
|LionClaws||Jun 1 2012, 01:43 AM Post #6|
What's the beasty-looking crocodile in the background of that image?
|Quiet||Jul 1 2012, 11:33 AM Post #7|
I already knew about the snake but after watching this video, got a new respect for it. Truly a eye opener.
Hope it works, I don't think it plays in some countries, if it's already been posted my apologies. Enjoy.
|genao87||Jul 7 2012, 07:02 AM Post #8|
What was the size of the largest Crocs the article mentioned that lived with giant snake? It said the adults would of been too much to handle for the snake.
Edited by genao87, Jul 7 2012, 07:03 AM.
|blaze||Jul 9 2012, 02:51 PM Post #9|
Titanoboa lived alongside a ~2m species of crocodile which name I forgot (the beastly looking croc on the picture above) and also with Acherontisuchus guajiraensis which was around 6-6.5m long with a long head similar to that of a false garihal, it surely compited against titanoboa for fish, and at that size it was already in the same weight class.
Also, the smithsonian documentary says there are vertebrae found on cerrejon of a 12m croc, they depicted titanoboa killing it but, come on, killing an animal 8 to 10 times as massive? I don't believe it.
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