Snakes have always been terrified of many peoples of the world. Imminent death was associated with snakes, snakes were harbingers of misfortune. Titanoboa - a giant snake, which, unfortunately or fortunately, has not caught humanity. She was one of the most formidable predators of her period - the Paleocene.
Origin of view and description
Titanoboa - a species of extinct snakes assigned to the only genus Titanoboa. Based on the structure of the skeleton, scientists conclude that the snake was a close relative of the boa constrictor. Her name also indicates this, since Boa is translated from Latin as "boa constrictor."
The first whole remains of titanoboa were found in Colombia. Researchers found that the snake lived about 60 million years ago. This snake appeared after the death of dinosaurs - then life on Earth was restored and gained strength for several million years.
These remains were a real find for scientists - it was as many as 28 individuals. Prior to this, only vertebrae were found in South America, so this creature remained a mystery to researchers. Only in 2008, Jason Head, at the head of his group, described a species such as titanoboa.
Titanoboa lived in the Paleocene era, a period when many living creatures of the planet were gigantic due to gravitational and atmospheric changes. Titanoboa confidently occupied a niche in the food chain, becoming one of the most formidable predators of its era.
Not so long ago, the largest snake that ever existed was considered a gigantofis, which reached a length of 10 meters. Titanoboa surpassed it in length and jumped in weight. She is also considered a more dangerous snake than her predecessor, since she hunted very large prey.
Appearance and features
Photo: What does titanoboa look like
Titanoboa is not in vain called the largest snake in the world. Its length could exceed 15 meters, and the weight reached a ton. The widest part of titanoboa in diameter was one meter. Her oral cavity had such a structure that allowed her to swallow prey that exceeded its width - her mouth opened almost to a horizontal state, because of which the dead victim fell right into the food canal.
Interesting fact: The longest snake to date is the reticulated python, reaching seven meters in length. The smallest is considered leptotiplios, which barely reaches 10 cm.
Titanoboa had large flakes that were preserved in layers next to the remains in the form of prints. She was completely covered with these scales, including a massive head. Titanoboa had pronounced fangs, a massive upper jaw and a movable lower jaw. The snake's eyes were small, and the nasal canals were also barely visible.
The head, indeed, was very large relative to the rest of the body. This is justified by the size of the prey on which titanoboa was fed. The body had an uneven thickness: after the head, peculiar thin cervical vertebrae began, after which the snake thickened to the middle, and then narrowed to the tail.
Interesting fact: Compared to the current giant snake - anaconda, titanoboa was twice as long and four times heavier than it. Anaconda weighs about two hundred kg.
Of course, the individuals were not preserved in such a way that it was possible to determine the color of the snake. But scientists believe that the bright color was not peculiar to the animals of its habitat. Titanoboa led a secretive lifestyle and was camouflaged. Most of all, her color resembled a modern python - a dark green shade of scales and dark annular spots throughout the body.
Now you know what titanoboa looked like. Let’s find out where the giant snake lived.
Where did titanoboa live?
Photo: Titanoba Snake
All snakes are cold-blooded, and titanoboa was no exception. Therefore, the habitat of this snake should be warm or hot, with a tropical or subtropical climate. The average annual temperature for such a snake should be at least 33 degrees Celsius. The warm climate allowed these snakes to reach enormous size.
The remains of these snakes were found at the following points:
- Southeast Asia;
The first remains were found at the bottom of the Colombian mine in Carrejon. Nevertheless, it is worth making an error on a change in the position of the continents and a change in climate, which is why it is difficult to establish the exact habitat of titanoboa.
Specialist Mark Danny claims that titanoboa was so huge that it generated tremendous amounts of heat from metabolic processes. Because of this, the ambient temperature around this creature was supposed to be four or six degrees lower than that claimed by many other scientists. Otherwise, titanoboa would overheat.
It was reliably established that titanobooba lived in tropical and subtropical moist forests. She preferred to hide in muddy rivers and lakes, from where she led her hunt. Snakes of this size moved extremely slowly, rarely crawled out of shelters and, moreover, did not crawl through the trees, as many boas and pythons do. In support of this, scientists draw analogies with the modern anaconda, which leads just such a lifestyle.
What did titanoboa eat?
Photo: Ancient Titanoboa
Based on the structure of her teeth, scientists believe that the snake fed mainly on fish. No fossilized remains were found inside the skeletons of giant snakes, however, due to the sedentary lifestyle and its physiology, it follows that the snake did not absorb large prey.
Not all scientists agree that titanoboa was exclusively fish-eating. Many believe that the huge body of the snake required a large amount of energy, which she simply could not get from the fish. Therefore, there are suggestions that the following creatures of the Paleocene era could become victims of titanoboa.
Carodine cubs are large mammals that lived in the same locality as titanoboa;
- plesi recordings;
- phenacoduses in the Late Paleocene.
There are also suggestions that the snake did not hunt in the manner generally accepted for pythons. Initially, there was a belief that titanoboa encircled prey with rings and squeezed it, breaking bones and interrupting breathing. In fact, titanoboa used camouflage, plunging into muddy water and lurking at the bottom.
When the victim approached the edge of the water, the snake made a rapid throw, grabbed prey with powerful jaws, instantly breaking its bones. This method of hunting is not peculiar to non-poisonous snakes, but is used by crocodiles.
Features of character and lifestyle
Photo: Extinct Titanoboa
Titanoboa led a secretive solitary lifestyle. Their enormous size and physical strength were compensated by the fact that the snake was inactive on land, and therefore preferred to hide in water. The snake spent most of its time burying itself in silt and waiting for possible prey - large fish that would not notice the hidden predator.
Like anacondas and boas, titanoboa was aimed at saving energy. She moved only when she experienced hunger after a long digestion of the old food. She hunted mainly in water, but she could swim close to land, hiding at the edge. When some animals of the right size came to the watering place, titanoboa immediately reacted and killed them. On land, the snake almost crawled out, doing this only in rare cases.
At the same time, titanoboa was not very aggressive. If the snake was full, it did not feel like attacking fish or animals, even if they were nearby. Also, titanoboa could be prone to cannibalism, which confirms its solitary lifestyle. It is likely that these snakes were purely territorial creatures. They could defend their territory in front of other individuals of titanoboa, as the food reserves of these snakes were limited due to their size.
Social structure and reproduction
Photo: Giant Titanoboa
It is extremely difficult to establish the period in which the mating games of the titanoboa began. It is only possible to guess how the seasonal breeding of these snakes took place, based on the already known facts about the breeding of anacondas and boas. Titanoboa were oviparous snakes. The breeding season was during the period when the air temperature began to rise after the seasonal decline - roughly speaking, in the spring-summer period, when the rainy season began.
Since titanoboa lived in isolation, the males had to independently search for females. Most likely, one male and several females with which he could mate belonged to a certain territorial site.
It is difficult to suppose whether the males of titanobactus had clashes between themselves for the right to mate. Modern non-toxic snakes do not differ in conflict, and females independently choose the most liked male, if there is a choice, without any indicative fights. As a rule, the largest male gets the right to mate - the same can be applied to titanoboa.
Females did masonry near the natural habitat - a lake, river or swamp. Anacondas and boas jealously guard the laid eggs, therefore it can be assumed that the titanoboa females were regularly at the masonry and guarded it from the attacks of predators. During this time, large snakes cease to eat and are exhausted, since males do not take any part in the nursing of eggs.
At first, newborn snakes were next to their mother, although they were large enough for independent hunting. Later, surviving individuals found themselves secluded territory, where they continued to exist.
Natural Enemies of Titanoboa
Photo: What does titanoboa look like
Although titanoboa was a giant snake, it was not a particularly large creature of its era. At this time, there were many other gigantic animals that competed with her. For example, Carbonemis turtles, the remains of which are often found in swamps and lakes near the remains of titanoboa, can be classified as such.
The fact is that these turtles had the same food base as titanoboa - fish. They are also related in a similar way of hunting - disguise. Because of this, titanoboa often came across a giant tortoise, and these skirmishes could be deplorable for the snake. The jaws of the turtle were powerful enough to bite the titanoboa head or a thinner part of the body. In turn, titanoboa could injure only the head of the turtle, since the force of the bite would definitely not be enough to break the shell.
Giant crocodiles, who still prefer to live in small rivers or stagnant waters, could also seriously compete with titanoboa. They could perceive titanoboa as a rival in the food chain, and as prey. Crocodiles had a variety of sizes, but the largest of them could kill titanoboa.
It is unlikely that any of the mammals or birds posed a threat to the giant snake. Due to its secretive lifestyle and large size, no animals could detect it or pull it out of the water. Therefore, only other reptiles that shared the same habitat with it could pose a threat to titanoboa.
Population and species status
Photo: Titanoba Snake
The reason for the extinction of titanoboa is simple: it lies in climate change, which has severely affected the cold-blooded reptile. Titanoboa perfectly adapted to high temperatures, but could not tolerate low ones. Therefore, the movement of the continents and the gradual cooling led to the slow extinction of these snakes.
Scientists believe titanoboa may return due to global warming. Millions of years of adaptation to elevated temperatures cause animals to grow in size, producing more carbon dioxide. Modern anacondas and boas can evolve into a species similar to titanoboa, but it will take millions of years.
Titanoboa remained in popular culture. For example, in 2011, a ten-meter mechanical model of this giant snake was created, and the team of creators plans to make a snake in full size - all 15 meters.
Interesting fact: In 2012, at the Central Station in New York, a reconstruction of the titanoboa skeleton was presented. Locals could take a look at the colossal dimensions of this ancient creature.
Titanoboa has also appeared in movies and books. This snake leaves a lasting impression - just one look at the size of its skeleton is enough. Titanoboa occupied the top position in the food chain of the Paleocene, and was also a real giant of its era.