The giant snake that stalked the Earth
By Jane O'Brien BBC News, Washington
A recently discovered prehistoric monster snake provides answers about the past - and raises questions for the future. Around 58 million years ago a monstrous snake slithered out of the swampy jungles of South America and began a reign of terror. Weighing more than a ton and measuring 14m (approximately 50 feet) the giant reptile could swallow a whole crocodile without showing a bulge. But a few years ago scientists never even knew it existed.
"Never in your wildest dreams do you expect to find a 14-metre boa constrictor. The biggest snake today is half that size," says Dr Carlos Jaramillo, a scientist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and part of the team that made the discovery. The fossils were exposed by excavation at the massive Cerrejon open-face coal mine in northern Colombia. In 2002 scientists had discovered at that site the remains of a tropical rainforest from the Palaeocene epoch - perhaps the planet's first. As well as fossilised leaves and plants, they unearthed reptiles so big they defied imagination."What we found was a giant world of lost reptiles - turtles the size of a kitchen table and the biggest crocodiles in the history of fossil records," says Jonathan Bloch, an expert in vertebrate evolution at the University of Florida. They also found the vertebrae of a colossal snake.
Read rest see illustration here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17544885
There were stories in the past of giant snakes...perhaps descendants of these big guys?