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Fossil range: 60–58 Ma
Titanoboa vertebrae (top & middle), Anaconda vertebrae (bottom).
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Eumetazoa
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Subclass: Diapsida
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Boidae
Subfamily: Boinae
Genus: Titanoboa
Head, 2009
  • T. cerrejonensis

Titanoboa, pronounced /taɪˌtænɵˈboʊə/ tye-TAN-o- BOH, meaning "titanic boa",[1] is a genus of snake that lived approximately 60 to 58 million years ago, in the Paleocene epoch,[2] a 10-million-year period immediately following the dinosaur extinction event.[3] The only known species is the Titanoboa cerrejonensis, the largest snake ever discovered,[2] supplanting the previous record holder, Gigantophis.



An artist's rendering of Titanoboa cerrejonensis

By comparing the sizes and shapes of its fossilized vertebrae to those of extant snakes, researchers estimated that the T. cerrejonensis reached a maximum length of 12 to 15 m (40 to 50 ft),[4] weighed about 1,135 kg (2,500 lb),[1] and measured about 1 m (3 ft) in diameter at the thickest part of the body.[5][6]

Comparison with living snakes

The largest eight of the 28 T. cerrejonensis snakes found were between 12 and 15 m (40 and 50 ft) in length. In comparison, the largest extant snakes are the Python reticulatus, which measures about 8.7 metres (29 ft) long[7], and the anaconda, which measures about 7 metres (23 ft) long[7] and is considered the heaviest snake on Earth. At the other end of the scale, the smallest extant snake is Leptotyphlops carlae with a length of about 10 centimetres (4 in).[8]



In 2009, the fossils of 28 individual T. cerrejonensis were announced to have been found in the coal mines of Cerrejón in La Guajira, Colombia.[1][2] Prior to this discovery, few fossils of Paleocene-epoch vertebrates had been found in ancient tropical environments of South America.[9] The snake was discovered on an expedition by a team of international scientists led by Jonathan Bloch, a University of Florida vertebrate paleontologist, and Carlos Jaramillo, a paleobotanist from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.[10]


Because snakes are ectothermic, the discovery implies that the tropics, the creature's habitat, must have been warmer than previously thought, averaging approximately 90 °F (30 °C).[1][2][11][12] The warmer climate of the Earth during the time of T. cerrejonensis allowed cold-blooded snakes to attain much larger sizes than modern snakes.[13] For example, of ectothermic animals today, larger ones are found in the tropics where it is hottest, and smaller ones are found farther from the equator.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Head, Jason J.; Jonathan I. Bloch, Alexander K. Hastings, Jason R. Bourque, Edwin A. Cadena, Fabiany A. Herrera, P. David Polly, and Carlos A. Jaramillo (2009). "Giant boid snake from the paleocene neotropics reveals hotter past equatorial temperatures.". Nature 457: 715–718. doi:10.1038/nature07671. Retrieved 2009-02-05.  
  2. ^ a b c d Kwok, Roberta (4 February 2009). "Scientists find world's biggest snake". Nature. Retrieved 2009-02-04.  
  3. ^ a b "Science Daily: At 2,500 Pounds And 43 Feet, Prehistoric Snake Is Largest On Record". ScienceDaily. 2009-02-04. Retrieved 2009-02-06.  
  4. ^ " | Ancient, gargantuan snakes ate crocs for breakfast". Retrieved 2009-02-07.  
  5. ^ McIlroy, Anne (2009-02-05). "Titanoboa made anaconda look like a garter snake". Science. Retrieved 2009-02-06.  
  6. ^ Dunham, Will (2009-02-04). "Titanic ancient snake was as long as Tyrannosaurus". Reuters UK. Retrieved 2009-02-06.  
  7. ^ a b Murphy JC, Henderson RW. 1997. Tales of Giant Snakes: A Historical Natural History of Anacondas and Pythons. Krieger Pub. Co. 221 pp. ISBN 0894649957.
  8. ^ S. Blair Hedges (August 4, 2008). "At the lower size limit in snakes: two new species of threadsnakes (Squamata: Leptotyphlopidae: Leptotyphlops) from the Lesser Antilles" (PDF). Zootaxa 1841: 1–30. Retrieved 2008-08-04.  
  9. ^ Maugh II, Thomas H. (4 February 2009). "Fossil of 43-foot super snake Titanoboa found in Colombia". Los Angeles Times.,0,6550292.story. Retrieved 2009-02-04.  
  10. ^ "At 2,500 Pounds And 43 Feet, Prehistoric Snake Is Largest On Record". Science Daily. February 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-04.  
  11. ^ Joyce, Christopher (5 February 2009). "1-Ton Snakes Once Slithered In The Tropics". NPR. Retrieved 2009-02-05.  
  12. ^ "ScienceDirect - Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology : Climate model sensitivity to atmospheric CO2 levels in the Early–Middle Paleogene". Retrieved 2009-02-07.  
  13. ^ Makarieva, A. M.; Victor G. Gorshkov and Bai-Lian Li (2005-09-14). "Gigantism, temperature and metabolic rate in terrestrial poikilotherms". Proceedings of the Royal Society B 272 (1578): 2325–2328. doi:10.1098/rspb.2005.3223. PMID 16191647. PMC 1560189. Retrieved 2009-02-07.  

External links



Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Reptilia
Subclassis: Diapsida
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Serpentes
Superfamilia: Booidea
Familia: Boidae
Subfamilia: Boinae
Genus: †Titanoboa
Species: Titanoboa cerrejonensis


Titanoboa Head et al., 2009.

Type species

Titanoboa cerrejonensis Head et al., 2009, by monotypy.


  • Head, J.J.; Bloch, J.I.; Hastings, A.K.; Bourque, J.R.; Cadena, E.A.; Herrera, F.A.; Polly, P.D.; Jaramillo, C.A. 2009: Giant boid snake from the Palaeocene neotropics reveals hotter past equatorial temperatures. Nature, 457: 715-717.

Vernacular names

English: Titan boa
ქართული: ტიტანობოა
Македонски: Титанобоа
中文: 塞雷洪泰坦巨蟒

Simple English

Fossil range: Paleocene
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Boidae
Subfamily: Boinae
Genus: Titanoboa
Head, 2009
  • T. cerrejonensis

Titanoboa (meaning Boa Titan), was a genus of snake that lived about 60 to 58 million years ago, in the Paleocene epoch, a 10-million-year time after the dinosaurs were extinct. The only known type is the Titanoboa cerrejonensis, the biggest snake ever found to have been found in the coal mines of Cerrejón, La Guajira, Colombia in 2009.


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