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Titanoboa and a giant crocodilian in Graveyard of the Giant Beasts

Titanoboa model, a 43-foot snake that existed millions of years ago
Titanoboa is largest snake ever found and lived around 60 million years ago. Image: CC Ryan Quick

In an episode titled Graveyard of the Giant Beasts, Secrets of the Dead investigates which creature was the top predator in Colombia 58 million years ago.

The lineup includes a 43-foot snake called Titanoboa and a similarly giant crocodilian with a tremendous bite force.

Scientists are studying this area of Northern Colombia due to the huge number of finds in the vast open-pit Cerrejón coal mine.

Cerrejón open cast mine
Cerrejón is the vast open-pit mine where Titanoboa’s remains were found

Titanoboa lived between 60–58 million years ago and was a truly huge snake, it was five times the size of anything alive today and weighed over a ton!

When the fossils were first found they were assumed to be crocodilian like many of the others found in the area, plus the vertebrate’s huge size meant they could be little else.

Titanoboa vertebrate vs modern day anaconda
Titanoboa vertebrate on the left vs modern day anaconda on the right

However, once they were sent back to the lab for study, scientists soon realised they were in fact snake vertebrate. But these dwarfed even the large anaconda we see today and meant the snake they belonged to must have been truly gigantic in size and in fact the largest snake ever to have lived.

Not to be outdone by a mere snake, the Cerrejón Crocodile was about 28 feet long and had a bite equal to that of a T. rex. Much larger than any croc alive today, this monstrous predator had a 15,000lb bite force and was as big as the earlier dinsaur era Sarcosuchus.

Catch Secrets of the Dead – Graveyard of the Giant Beasts at 10 PM on PBS.


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