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Smithsonian documentary highlights fossil of monster snake found by UF paleontologists

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The members of the Florida Museum of Natural History received a treat last night: a sneak peek of a new documentary entitled Titanoboa:  Monster Snake. Florida’s 89.1, WUFT-FM’s Chip Skambis reports on how University of Florida vertebrate paleontologists helped discover the massive snake’s fossilized remains.

[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/TitanoboaMixdownFinal.mp3]

The film “Titanoboa:  Monster Snake” will premiere on the Smithsonian Channel April 1 at 8 p.m.  The Florida Museum of Natural History’s newest temporary exhibition, “Titanoboa: Monster Snake,” opens to the public March 30.  The exhibition will run through Jan. 6, 2013.

GAINESVILLE Fla— A display of vertebra and rib bones from the Titanboa, which grew up to 45 feet, weighed 1.25 tons and was the largest vertebrate on earth for 20 million years. On the bottom center are the vertebra and skull of a modern 17 foot Anaconda for size comparison. Partial skeletons of the giant, boa-constrictor-like snake named “Titanoboa,” were found in Colombia by an international team of scientists and studied at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.

This is an artist’s perception of how the largest snake the world has ever known would have looked in its natural setting 60 million years ago. Partial skeletons of the giant, boa-constrictor-like snake named Titanoboa were found in Colombia by an international team of scientists and were studied at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus. The illustration was prepared by Jason Bourque, a UF graduate student who was a member of the team.

Florida Museum of Natural History researcher Jonathan Bloch shows the size difference between vertebrae belonging to the giant snake Titanoboa cerrejonensis, left, and an anaconda, right. Based on the diameter of the fossilized Titanoboa vertebrae, the researchers estimate that Titanoboa, which lived 60 million years ago, probably grew 45 feet long. The anaconda measured a relatively short 17 feet long.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida graduate student Jason Bourque (left) demonstrates how a rib would have articulated onto a vertebra of the largest snake the world has ever known on Dec. 17, 2008. Partial skeletons of the giant, boa-constrictor-like snake named “Titanoboa,” estimated to be 42 to 45 feet long, were found in Colombia by an international team of scientists and studied at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. UF graduate student Alex Hastings (center) and UF vertebrate paleontologist Jonathan Bloch (right) are each holding a vertebra as well. In the foreground are various other Titanoboa fossils, including segments of the articulated skeleton.

About Chip Skambis

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