A Diet of Dinosaurs

A Diet of Dinosaurs

Stories of human encounters with enormous snakes have been passed down through the ages, and like most oft—told tales they have been subject to some exaggeration. Typically the reptiles are described as being thirty to forty feet long, and although pythons or anacondas of over twenty feet are not uncommon, a thirty—foot snake is extremely rare. When a snake of such length is reported, evidence rarely exists to substantiate the description.

To date the longest snake on record is a reticulated python with a verified length of thirty—three feet. No known anaconda has reached that length, but stretched skins often accompany inflated stories. A standing reward of $5,000 has been posted for anyone who can prove the existence of the often—reported forty—five—foot anacondas. To date nobody has collected the reward, and probably no one ever will.

The only foolproof way to find the ultimate big snake would be to go back in time sixty to one hundred million years. Scientists recently uncovered fossil remains of a sixty—million—year—old python, Gigantophis, in El Faiyum, Egypt. Enough of the snake was recovered to enable the scientists to estimate its length rather accurately. All agreed that in life it must have been at least sixty—five feet long.

As enormous as this may seem, an even larger species of python is known to have coexisted with dinosaurs millions of years before the time of Gigantophis. Such stupendous size should, of course, be expected of serpents of one hundred million years ago — after all, they dined on dinosaurs.


From the book: 
Our Fascinating Earth