Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Snake longer than school bus

Researchers have unveiled fossils of the world's largest snake, a 42-foot-long relative of the boa constrictor.

Reported at Cryptomundo (which has the best headline), Science News, and many more, details are in this week's Nature. Apart from the fact a giant snake is inherently cool, the discovery also sheds light on the paleoclimate.

The maximum body size that a snake species can reach is related to the average annual temperature of the environment in which it lives. So, average annual temperature in Titanoboa’s rainforest probably measured between 32° and 33° Celsius, about 6 degrees C higher than the average temperature in the region today, the team reports.

Researchers knew the temperature was higher 60 million years ago than it is today, but the new finding could help scientists better calibrate models of ancient climate.

I guess Titanoboa is kind of a cool name but I still prefer Beelzebuffo. Beelzebuffo had a better picture too. Am I the only person who thinks the artists reconstruction above would be greatly improved by the addition of a schoolbus?

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