Gigantophis

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Gigantophis
Temporal range: Late Eocene, 40 Ma
Gigantophis JWArtwork.png
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Madtsoiidae[1]
Genus: Gigantophis
Species: G. garstini[1]
Binomial name
Gigantophis garstini
C. W. Andrews, 1901[2]

Gigantophis garstini is an extinct, giant snake which may have measured more than 10 m (32.8 ft),[3] larger than any living species of snake. Before the Paleocene constrictor genus Titanoboa was described from Colombia in 2009, Gigantophis was regarded as the largest snake ever. Gigantophis lived about 40 million years ago in the northern Sahara, where Egypt[3] and Algeria are now located.

Discovery[edit]

The species is known only from a small number of fossils, mostly vertebrae.

Taxonomy[edit]

Gigantophis is classified as a member of the extinct family Madtsoiidae.

Size[edit]

Jason Head, of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, has compared fossil Gigantophis vertebrae to those of the largest modern snakes, and concluded that the extinct snake could grow from 9.3 to 10.7 m (30.5 to 35.1 ft) in length. If 10.7 m (35.1 ft), it would have been more than 10% longer than its largest living relatives.[4][5] This species was once thought to be the largest species of snake in Earth's history, but was later replaced by Titanoboa.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Gigantophis". The Paleobiology Database. Retrieved 2012-07-11. 
  2. ^ "Gigantophis garstini". The Paleobiology Database. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  3. ^ a b Dunham, Will (2009-02-04). "Titanic ancient snake was as long as Tyrannosaurus". Reuters UK. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  4. ^ Head, J. & Polly, D. 2004. They might be giants: morphometric methods for reconstructing body size in the world’s largest snakes. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 24 (Supp. 3), 68A-69A.
  5. ^ Information from issue 2473 of New Scientist magazine, 10 November 2004, page 17