Scientists have recovered fossils from a 60-million-year-old South American snake whose length and weight might make today’s big snakes seem cute and cuddly.

The size of the snake’s vertebrae suggest it weighed 2,500 pounds and measured 42.7 feet from nose to tail tip. Geologist David Polly says, “At its greatest width, the snake would have come up to about your hips. The size is pretty amazing. But our team went a step further and asked, how warm would the earth have to be to support a body of this size?”

Snake expert Jonathan Bloch says, “Tropical ecosystems of South America were surprisingly different 60 million years ago. It was a rainforest, like today, but it was even hotter and the cold-blooded reptiles were all substantially larger. The result was, among other things, the largest snakes the world has ever seen?and hopefully ever will.”

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