It May Have Been the Biggest Snake Ever

Experts estimate that Vasuki inidicus in ancient India was up to 50 feet long
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2024 12:15 PM CDT
It May Have Been the Biggest Snake Ever
This resting anaconda is tiny compared to the newly discovered snake of old.   (Getty/MattiahATH)

Scientists in India may have unearthed the biggest snake ever to have slithered across the planet. From a mine, they unearthed skeletal remains of an ancient beast estimated to have been up to 50 feet long—meaning longer than a typical school bus, reports Smithsonian. Paleontologists, who published their findings in Scientific Reports, named the species Vasuki inidicus. The estimate comes from 27 different fossilized vertebrae, and the scientists acknowledge there's some guesswork involved in coming up with the length. However, it's least in the conversation with that of a previously discovered giant, Titanoboa.

"Based on the data at hand Vasuki was only slightly smaller in length than Titanoboa," the researchers tell Popular Science. "However, we cannot entirely rule out the possibility of Vasuki being slightly larger than Titanoboa, because the fossil vertebrae in our collection may not have come from the largest individual of Vasuki." Either way, Vasuki will add to the understanding of such apex predators and perhaps lend some insight into India's ancient climate. "It's also just a cool snake because it was so big," says University of Texas at Austin paleontologist John Jacisin III, who was not involved with the study.

Vasuki lived about 47 million years ago in the Eocene Epoch and is distantly related to modern boas and anacondas, per Live Science. It likely ambushed its prey and subdued them with constriction, as anacondas do today. Given various factors including the coldblooded snake's size, scientists calculate that Vasuki's habitat averaged 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit, slightly warmer than the same region is today, per Popular Science. (More discoveries stories.)

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