From a fossil bed deep within Colombia’s Cerrejón coal mine emerges Titanoboa, the largest snake ever found. This Paleocene reptile—from the epoch following the dinosaurs’ demise—stretches our concept of what a snake can be. At 48 feet, this mega snake was longer than a school bus and was at the top of the monster-eat-monster food chain.
For the team of paleontologists, finding Titanoboa is a once-in-a-lifetime discovery. This reptile, along with other significant fossils unearthed in the Cerrejón coal mine, provides the first glimpse of the earliest known rainforest.
Until 2004, no one knew what lived in the South American tropics during the Paleocene epoch (65.5 to 56 million years ago). Then a student on a research expedition uncovered something remarkable, the first glimpse of a long-forgotten group of animals, with Titanoboa among them—a 60 million-year-old-beast thatwas able to crush and devour massive prehistoric crocodiles. What conditions nurtured such a creature? Could those conditions—and snakes of this enormous size ever return?
Using the known correlation between snake body size and environmental temperature as a guide, the team estimates that the average temperature in the rainforest was between 84 and 89.6°F (29-32°C). Modern tropical rainforests range from 79 to 81.5°F (26-27.5°C). This seemingly minor difference was a necessary factor in the evolution of Cerrejón’s massive reptiles, including huge crocodiles and turtles—all far larger than their modern relatives.
Titanoboa: Monster Snake is based on the research of: Carlos Jaramillo, PhD, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute–Panama; Jonathan Bloch, PhD, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida; Jason Head, PhD, University of Nebraska, Lincoln; P. David Polly, PhD, Indiana University.
This exhibitionis a collaboration of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the Florida Museum of Natural History, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and the Smithsonian Channel.
More news about Titanoboa:
Four freestanding, lightweight curved interpretative panels. Two have 37-inch flat screen monitors, one has a small case with a model vertebrae from a Titanoboa and a modern anaconda. 48-foot-long model snake on rollable flooring; Eight interpretive stanchions and a back-drop
Educational and promotional resources, speakers list
$18,000 per 12-week booking, plus prorated shipping
Approximately 2,000 square feet (could be smaller)