Why Did The Titanoboa Go Extinct?

In the early 1900s, rough-riding president Teddy Roosevelt offered a $1,000 in cash for the world's longest snake, per a Medium article by Matt Weber. The beast would have to exceed 30 feet in length to qualify. Try though they might, no one found a serpent so gargantuan. Little did Roosevelt know, he should have offered that reward about 60 million years earlier because, according to the Florida Museum, the world's largest snake was a bus-sized boa that inhabited South America about 6 million years after T. Rexes went extinct. That titanic serpent was fittingly dubbed the Titanoboa.

Just the thought of a non-feather boa that big might make some people wet their pants faster than they can say, "Ophidiophobia." But don't worry, all you snake un-enthusiasts — this creature can only stalk you in your nightmares because not only is it dead, but all of its slithering ilk died out as well. So let's give you some details to scream about in your dreams

Just how huge was the titanic titanboa?

To call the Titanoboa an apex predator is an understatement. It likely dined on giant turtles and crocodiles. Measuring an estimated 42 to 45 feet long, it was roughly the length of a T. Rex. Also a girthy serpent, the Titanoboa was so thick that paleontologist Jason Head said (per the Florida Museum), "If it were moving down the hall and decided to come into my office to eat me, it would literally have to squeeze through the door." 

The snake's size probably derived from the climate. Because snakes can't regulate their body temperature internally, they tend to be smaller in colder climes and larger in warmer ones, where they also have faster metabolisms. Given the Titanoboa's prodigious dimensions, researchers estimate that during the snake's heyday the average "annual temperature at equatorial South America 60 million years ago was about 91 degrees Fahrenheit, about 10 degrees warmer than today." 

Though it's not entirely clear why the snake went extinct, the change in temperature likely played an important role, per the World Atlas. Moreover, the decline of rain forests made it more difficult to hunt, which probably spelled doom for an animal that huge. At least you know that the key to defeating that beast in your nightmares is to turn on an air conditioner.