Extinct genus of snakes
This article is about the snake genus. For the documentary, see Titanoboa : Monster Snake
Titanoboa ( ) is an extinct genus of very bombastic snakes that lived in what is now La Guajira in northeastern Colombia. They could grow up to 12.8 megabyte ( 42 foot ), possibly even 14.3 m ( 47 foot ) hanker and reach a weight of 1,135 kg ( 2,500 pound ). This snake lived during the Middle to Late Paleocene epoch, around 60 to 58 million years ago following the extinction of the dinosaurs. Although in the first place thought to be an apex predator, the discovery of skull bones revealed that it was more than probable specialised in preying on pisces. The alone know species is Titanoboa cerrejonensis, the largest hydra ever discovered, [ 1 ] which supplanted the previous record holder, Gigantophis garstini. [ 2 ]

history and appoint [edit ]

In 2009, the fossils of 30 individuals of T. cerrejonensis were found in the Cerrejón Formation of the coal mines of Cerrejón [ 3 ] in La Guajira, Colombia. [ 4 ] These specimens consist of the type specimen, a bombastic precloacal vertebra, the paratype, besides a vertebra, and 184 extra remains identified as extra vertebra and rib ( some of which found in articulation ), amounting to a total of 28 specimens in accession to the type specimen and paratype. Before this discovery, few fossils of Paleocene-epoch vertebrates had been found in ancient tropical environments of South America. [ 5 ] The snake was discovered on an dispatch 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. [ 1 ] [ 6 ] Field work continued following these initial discoveries, recovering multiple extra specimens including three skulls with consort postcranial bones. [ 7 ] [ 8 ] The scientific name combines the greek password “ Titan ” with Boa, the type genus of the family Boidae. The species name on the other hand is a reference to the Cerrejón region .

description [edit ]

Most material of Titanoboa consists of vertebra that in life would be located before the cloaca. They are robust with a uniquely t-shaped nervous spine. [ 4 ] The skull is merely concisely described in a 2013 abstract. According to it, Titanoboa is unique in the high come of palatal and fringy tooth positions compared to others boids, the quadrate bone is oriented at a first gear angle and the joint of both the palatine to pterygoid and pterygoid to quadrate are heavily reduced. The dentition themselves are decrepit ankylosed, meaning they are not powerfully connected to the shmooze. [ 7 ] Based on the size of the vertebra, Titanoboa was the largest snake in record history. In modern constrictors like boids and pythonids, increased body size is achieved through larger vertebra preferably than an addition in the measure of bones making up the skeletal system, allowing for length estimates based on person bones. Based on comparison between the undistorted Titanoboa vertebra and the skeleton of advanced feather boa, Head and colleagues found that the analyze specimens fit a side towards the by and by half of the precloacal vertebral collumn, approximately 60 to 65 % second from the first base two neck vertebra. Using this method acting, initial size estimates proposed a sum soundbox distance of approximately 12.82 m ( 42.1 foot ) ( ± 2.18 m ( 7 foot 2 in ) ). The late discovery of skull material allowed for size estimates based on skull to body duration proportions. Applying anaconda proportions to the 40 curium ( 16 in ) skull of Titanoboa results in a full body length of around 14.3 megabyte ( 47 foot ) ( ± 1.28 thousand ( 4 foot 2 in ) ). [ 7 ] Weight was determined by comparing Titanoboa to the extant green anaconda and the southerly rock ‘n’ roll python, resulting in a weight between 652 kg ( 1,437 pound ) and 1,819 kilogram ( 4,010 pound ) ( average estimate 1,135 kilogram ( 2,502 pound ) ). These estimates far exceeds the largest modern snakes, the park anaconda and the reticulate python and the former record holder, the madtsoid Gigantophis. The being of eight extra specimens of similar size to the one used in these calculations implies that Titanoboa reached such massive proportions regularly. [ 4 ]

categorization [edit ]

Vertebrae morphology places the snake in the kin Boinae alongside other large constrictors of the Americas such as anacondas and typical feather boa. [ 4 ] The skull material confirmed Titanoboa randomness initial placement within the class, immediately besides supported by the reduce palatine choanal. specifically, the 2013 abstract recovered the giant snake being closely connected to taxa from the Pacific Islands and Madagascar, linking Old World and New World boids and suggesting that the two lineages must have diverged by the Paleocene at the latest. [ 7 ] This would place Titanoboa at the stalk of Boinae, a resultant role late collaborated by a study in 2015. [ 9 ]

paleobiology [edit ]

habitat [edit ]

due to the warm and humid greenhouse climate of the Paleocene, the region of what is now Cerrejón was covered by wet tropical rainforests that covered coastal plains that housed big river systems, which were inhabited by respective fresh water animals, particularly reptiles. Among the native reptiles are three different types of dyrosaurs, crocodylomorphs that survived the KPG extinction event independently from modern crocodilians. The genus that coexisted aboard Titanoboa included the large, slender-snouted Acherontisuchus, [ 10 ] the medium sized but broad-headed Anthracosuchus [ 11 ] and the relatively modest Cerrejonisuchus, [ 12 ] which may have been relatively more tellurian than its relatives. Turtles besides thrived in the tropical wetlands of Paleocene Colombia, giving rise to several species of considerable size such as Cerrejonemys [ 13 ] and Carbonemys, [ 14 ] two genus of Podocnemididae, and Puentemys, a bothremydid. [ 15 ] The rainforests of the Cerrejón Formation mirror modern tropical forests in regards to the families that make up much of the vegetation, however unlike today, these Paleocene forests were relatively moo in diverseness. Although it is potential that this moo diversity is the result of the wetland nature of the depositional environment, samples from other localities corresponding with this clock time frame suggest that the forests that arose concisely following the cretaceous Paleogene batch extinction were of like composition. This would indicate that the low plant diverseness of the time may be a calculate resultant role of the batch extinction preceding it. [ 16 ] [ 17 ] Plants found in these Paleocene forests include Zingiberales, Salvinia [ 18 ] and Araceae [ 19 ] among others .

diet [edit ]

initially, Titanoboa was thought to have acted much like a mod anaconda based on its size and the environment it was deposited in, with researchers suggesting that it may have in depart fed on the local crocodylomorph animal. however, in a 2013 abstract Jason Head and colleagues note that the skull of this snake displays multiple adaptations to a piscivorous diet such as the anatomy of the palate, tooth reckon and the human body of the tooth themselves. These adaptations bear resemblance to modern caenophidian snakes with a piscivorous diet and is unique among boids. Such a life style would be supported by the extensive rivers of Paleocene Colombia, arsenic well as the fossil fish ( lungfish and osteoglossomorphs ) recovered from the formation. [ 7 ]

Climate implications [edit ]

In the 2009 type description Head and colleagues correlate the giantism observed in Titanoboa with the climate conditions of its environment. As a poikilothermic poikilotherm, Titanoboa’ s inner temperature and metabolism were heavily subject on the ambient temparture, which would in flex affect the animal ‘s size. [ 20 ] Accordingly, boastfully poikilothermic animals are typically found in the tropics and decrease in size the far one moves away from the equator. Following this correlation, the authors suggest that the bastardly annual temperature can be calculated by comparing the utmost body size of poikilotherm animals found in two localities. Based on the relation between temperatures in the modern Neotropics and the maximal length of anaconda, Head and colleagues calculate a mean annual temperature of at least 32–33 °C for the equatorial region of Paleocene South America. The estimates are coherent with a hot Paleocene climate model as suggested by a study published in 2003 [ 21 ] and slightly higher ( 1-5 °C ) than estimates derived from the oxygen isotopes of planktonic foram. Although these estimates exceed temperatures of mod tropical forests, the paper argues that the increase in temperature is balanced out by higher amounts of rain. [ 4 ] Titanoboa devouring a A life-size model ofdevouring a crocodilian reptile, from the Smithsonian expose however, this decision was questioned by several researchers following the issue of the newspaper. J. M. Kale Sniderman used the same methodology as Head and colleagues on the Pleistocene monitor lizard Varanus priscus, comparing it to the extant Komodo dragon. Sniderman calculates that following this method, the modern tropics should be able to support lizards much larger than what is observed nowadays, or in the reverse, that Varanus priscus is much larger than what would be implied by the ambient temperature of its native roll. In conclusion it is argued that Paleocene rainforests may not have been any hot than those today and that the massive size of Titanoboa and Varanus priscus may rather be the results of lacking meaning mammal rival. [ 22 ] Mark W. Denny, Brent L. Lockwood and George N. Somero besides disagree with Head ‘s ending. They note that although this method acting first employed by Makarieva is applicable to smaller poikilotherms, it is not constant across all size ranges. As thermal chemical equilibrium is achieved through the relation back between book and surface area, they argue that the big size of Titanoboa coupled with the high temperatures proposed by Head et al. would mean that the animal would overheat easily if resting in a coiled up submit. The authors conclude that several key factors influence the relationship between Titanoboa and the temperature of the area it inhabited. Varying carriage could help cool down if needed, basking demeanor or heat absorption through the substrate are both obscure and the potentially semi-aquatic nature of the animal creatures extra factors to consider. ultimately, Denny and colleagues argue that the nature of the giant snake renders it a poor indicataor for the climate of the Paleocene and that the intend anual temperature must have been 4 to 6° C ( 7 to 11 °F ) cool than the current estimate. [ 23 ] These issues, aboard adjustments suggested by Makarieva, were addressed by Head and his team the same year, arguing that Denny and colleagues misunderstand their proposed model. They retort that the method acting takes into report variation caused by body size and that it ‘s furthermore based on the largest extant snakes, making it an allow method acting. They besides add that the results recovered are consistent with big extant snakes, which are besides known to perform thermoregulation through demeanor. Sniderman ‘s proposal that the correlation between body size and temperature is discrepant with modern monitor lizards is address double. For one, Head argues, Komodo dragons are a poor analogy as they are geographically restricted to the islands of Indonesia, limiting the size they could grow to while both green anaconda and Titanoboa are mainland animals. second the reaction notes that the size estimates utilized for Varanus priscus are overestimates and unreliable, being based on secondary reports that do not match better supported estimates indicating a 2.19–4.7 thousand ( 7 foot 2 in – 15 foot 5 in ) range for the proctor. [ 24 ]

References [edit ]