Monday, March 2, 2009


I'm frightened of big snakes, and if I ever saw an anaconda or python in the wild I would no doubt freak. I guess for most humans that would be a normal reaction.

At a safe distance, though, snakes are fascinating creatures. We especially like seeing stories and photos about gargantuan snakes. The bigger the more gripping (as long as it's not gripping us). Recently, two interesting reports have surfaced in the news about our serpentine friends. One, a supposed 100 ft. snake was photographed from a helicopter in the Baleh River in Borneo. This photo, if true, matches local legends of giant serpent sightings over the centuries.

However, the general consensus is that the photo is a fake, created by Photoshop or some similar program. What convinced me is the proportion of the snake's size to the rest of the scene. Assuming all of those little green blobs are jungle trees, the snake in proportion would be much larger than 100 ft.

There are a few other problems too, backed up by scientific facts. One, there would have to be other very colossal snakes in the area to sustain a breeding population. Maybe not all 100 ft ones, but certainly larger than any snake now existing.

Another reason why a 100 ft. snake is unlikely to exist, is that snakes are cold-blooded. A snake of this size, in order to sustain enough energy, would require very high tropical temperatures. We know this from the fossilized remains of a real giant snake, the Titanoboa, that lived 60 million years ago in Northern Columbia. This snake was 43 ft. long and lived in a tropical forest habitat with temperatures ranging consistently around 86-93 degrees.
The Titanoboa

The Titanoboa, related to the boa snakes that live today, is the largest prehistoric snake ever known. How big are the largest snakes now living? Well, they're little minis compared to the Titanoboa, though you still wouldn't want one slithering around in your back yard. The Asian Reticulated Python holds the record has the longest snake at 33 ft. Anacondas, also gigantic snakes averaging 20 ft., are not as long as pythons but have more girth and are very powerful. To give you an idea, here is the vertebrae of the Titanoboa compared with an Anaconda living today! Besides this photo is a real Anaconda. Either one is colossal enough for me!


Anonymous said...

You just like to keep saying "Tit-anoboa"! :-)

Your neighbor!

Anonymous said...

good post. I'm looking forward to snake season soon. and I agree, that photo, albeit cool, can't be real.