Extinct snake that measured 50 feet long discovered in India


Researchers in India have discovered a giant extinct snake, measuring up to 50 feet long and believed to be the largest madtsoiid snake ever recorded. The Vasuki indicus specimen dates back 47 million years and is almost double the average size of similar snakes, like pythons.

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee discovered an “excellently preserved, partial vertebral column” of the snake, according to their study published in the journal Scientific Reports. They found 27 vertebrae and analyzed each one to positively identify the specimen as a V. Indicus, which is extinct.

Researchers found 27 vertebrae and analyzed each one to positively identify the specimen as a V. Indicus, which is extinct. / Credit: Scientific Reports

Researchers found 27 vertebrae and analyzed each one to positively identify the specimen as a V. Indicus, which is extinct. / Credit: Scientific Reports

Researchers named it Vasuki, which comes from well-known Hindu myth about the serpent Vāsuki, which is wrapped around the neck of Lord Shiva, a supreme deity in the Hindu tradition of Shaivism.

The snake was likely slow-moving and too large to be forager, researchers said, noting it is more likely that it was an ambush predator that constricted its prey like a python.

The specimen was fully grown and had a broad, cylindrical body, according to the study, which said it could have weighed up to 2,200 pounds.

The only other snake with a similar length is the extinct Titanoboa, which is believed to be the world’s largest snake, measuring 45 to 50 feet long and three feet wide.

The madtsoiidae family of snakes existed for around 100 million years in Africa, Europe and India. But this snake is specifically from the Indian subcontinent and existed approximately 56 to 34 million years ago, the researchers said.

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