Posted by: r.m. | February 6, 2009

super-snake is giant thermometer?

From the excellent Climate Change Feedback blog:
Scientists have found a new way to estimate past climate: snakes.


The remains of a snake found in Columbia – the newly named Titanoboa cerrejonensis — would have measured 13 metres long and weighed about 1,135 kilograms, making it the biggest known snake, living or extinct.

So, what does that mean for climate?

The snake lived 58 to 60 million years ago, around the Palaeocene when the Earth’s upper latitudes were much warmer than they are today. This was a time when ice at the poles had melted and crocodiles roamed the Arctic. But, as climate scientist Matthew Huber describes in a Nature News & Views article, researchers are less sure how hot the tropics were during that time.

He wrote: “The discovery in Colombia of a giant species of fossil snake is news in itself. But a wider, more controversial inference to be drawn is that tropical climate in the past was not buffered from global warming.”

Vertebrate paleontologist Jason Head of the University of Toronto in Canada and his colleagues, who reported the snake discovery in Nature, reasoned that such a large snake could only survive at a certain temperature. Snakes rely on external heat from their environment to help fuel their metabolism. The bigger the snake, the more heat it requires, which is why you don’t see pythons in Minnesota.

…while the comparison between the natural global warming of the Palaeocene and modern human-induced global warming is “very tenuous”, Head says, it might mean that today’s tropics will heat up just as fast as the rest of the world, potentially leading to more extinctions around the equator.



  1. how huge was this snake?
    what is mentioned here is that as climate temperature increases, the possibility of having larger snakes in hot areas will rise. this giant lived in warm areas where other creatures were unable to resist. but to obtain such snakes will take very long time of evolution, and many species will disappear at this time due to temperature increase.
    I’m certainly not exited to see such a snake in reality, because this will mean that many species would be extinct. this snake could be an indicator of warming and extinction of other species.

  2. living, or extinct????
    Does that mean that there could be snakes that huge still found today?
    This snake is probably from the dinosaurs time.
    Anyway, just as Mr. Adib Nahas said, due to the increase in temperature that the world is being subjected to because of global warming, many species are going to become extinct, and many new ones are going to appear.
    Lets just hope that humans would not be on the extinction list and start to find solutions to global warming

  3. Lets see : an increase in temperature lead to a climate change, the climate change leads to bigger snakes and more extinctions.
    I Hope that we will be already gone before that time because i dont want to be devoured by some geant snake!!!
    So in that case Mr. Mahfouz i’m totally in to find efficient solutions to global warming.

    well when i was reading this article i thought it was anaconda…. i could not imagine that we will be living with this huge monster….
    If global warming will lead to the extinction of some species and birth of other so i thing that man kind will be extincted… because such species will ador our “meat”…..
    hope that this will not happen such not to worry about our grand grand grand…. sons

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