Fossils of Prehistoric Snake Measuring Over 50 Feet Long Discovered in India

Researchers in India uncover fossils of a massive prehistoric snake, Vasuki indicus, measuring up to 50 feet long and weighing over a ton, shedding light on the evolution of giant snakes during a warmer climate.

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Dil Bar Irshad
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Fossils of Prehistoric Snake Measuring Over 50 Feet Long Discovered in India

Fossils of Prehistoric Snake Measuring Over 50 Feet Long Discovered in India

Indian researchers have discovered the fossil remains of a massive prehistoric snake, named Vasuki indicus, that measured between 36 and 50 feet (10.9 and 15.2 meters) in length. The fossils, including 27 vertebrae, were found in a lignite mine in the Kutch district of Gujarat, India in 2005. Initially believed to belong to a large, crocodile-like creature, researchers later determined the fossils were from an exceptionally large snake that lived around 47 million years ago.

Vasuki indicus, named after the mythical snake king Vasuki from Hindu mythology, is estimated to have weighed over a ton. Researchers believe the warm climate and ample resources in the region during that time period allowed the snake to grow to its monstrous size. Comparisons of the snake's vertebrae to those of living snakes were used to estimate its length, making it comparable in size to the largest known snake, Titanoboa, which lived around 60 million years ago in what is now Colombia.

Why this matters: The discovery of Vasuki indicus provides important insights into the diversity and evolution of giant snakes during the Cenozoic era, which began after the age of the dinosaurs. It also highlights the impact of climate on the size of reptiles, as these giant snakes are believed to have thrived during periods of exceptionally warm global temperatures.

Researchers believe Vasuki was a slow-moving ambush predator that would have subdued its prey through constriction, similar to modern-day large pythons and anacondas. While its exact diet is uncertain, evidence of potential prey such as catfish, turtles, crocodilians, and primitive whales was found in the same fossil layer. "Vasuki indicus was likely a slow-moving ambush predator that would have strangled its prey, similar to an anaconda," stated the researchers.

The discovery of Vasuki indicus marks a significant milestone in our understanding of prehistoric snakes and the environmental conditions that allowed them to reach such enormous sizes. However, researchers note that the current rapid pace of global warming is unlikely to allow for the evolution of similarly sized snakes today. The fossils of this ancient serpent provide a fascinating glimpse into the world of giant reptiles that once inhabited the swamps of India millions of years ago.

Key Takeaways

  • Researchers discovered fossil remains of a 36-50 ft prehistoric snake, Vasuki indicus.
  • Vasuki indicus lived around 47 million years ago and weighed over a ton.
  • It was a slow-moving ambush predator that subdued prey through constriction.
  • Discovery provides insights into giant snake diversity and evolution in the Cenozoic era.
  • Rapid global warming today unlikely to allow for similar-sized snakes to evolve.