Titanoboa: Monster Snake
Jan.26- Aug.11 | Adults, $6 (Fla. residents $5) Ages 3-17, $4.50
Florida Museum of Natural History scientists recently discovered 60-million-year-old remains of the largest snake in the world, Titanoboa cerrejonensis, in a Colombian coal mine. Measuring 48 feet long and weighing 2,500 pounds, this massive predator could crush and devour a crocodile. The new exhibition Titanoboa: Monster Snake tells the incredible story of this massive creature.
Featuring a full-scale model of Titanoboa and clips from a Smithsonian Channel documentary, the exhibition delves into the discovery, reconstruction and implications of this enormous reptile. Fossil plants and other animals found at the site reveal an early rain forest teeming with life and dating to the Paleocene, the lost world that followed the demise of the dinosaurs.
- The Cerrejón Coal Mine
Experience a re-created scene of the vast mining operation in northern Colombia where Titanoboa, as well as many other fossil animals and plants were discovered. The setting provides a glimpse into life on Earth about 60 million years ago during the Paleocene Epoch. The Cerrejón mine is an unusual place with a moonscape surface as hot as most deserts. To paleontologists, however, the amazing fossil bounty far outweighs the hardships of working at the location.
- Cleaning Up the Past
Welcome to the Paleontology Prep Lab! Observe and speak with museum preparators working on some of the thousands of fossils from the Cerrejón mine where Titanoboa was discovered. Scientists and trained volunteers spend many hours, and sometimes months, removing sediments that have entombed the fossils for millions of years. Many of the plant and animal fossils are extremely fragile and must be stabilized and carefully pieced together, much like a large puzzle.
- Titanoboa’s World
Fossil lungfish, turtles and crocodile relatives found with Titanoboa indicate that it lived in a freshwater habitat, like a river or swamp. Like anacondas, also known as water boas, Titanoboa functioned more efficiently in water due to its massive size. Locomotion on land was probably difficult and breathing out of water would have been challenging. Also, like anacondas, Titanoboa was probably a ‘sit and wait’ predator, biding its time until an unsuspecting victim swam within reach.
Did You Know?
- Coal is formed from ancient plant remains that form peat. Over time, sediments deposited on the peat subject it to extremely high pressure and heat, transforming the peat into coal. Removal of coal at Cerrejón exposes the fossil-bearing sediments.
- Fossil pollen, fruit, seeds and leaf impressions reveal that the major rain forest plant groups of today already lived in the area about 60 million years ago.
- Analysis of fossil leaf size and shape show the area received more rainfall during the Paleocene than it does today.
The exhibition is a collaboration between the Florida Museum, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. It is circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.