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Amazing Fossil Confirms that Ancient Snakes Consumed Dinosaurs

TitanoboaHerp enthusiasts grow up hearing such things as “Reptiles and amphibians are older than the dinosaurs…”, but it is hard to imagine what this means – to actually picture creatures that look like modern-day turtles or frogs interacting with dinosaurs.  Well, interact they did – a fossil unearthed in Western India depicts a snake about to consume a young dinosaur.

A Prehistoric Nest Raider

The moment was frozen in time by a mudslide some 67 million years ago.  Captured in action is an 11.5 foot long snake (Sanjeh indicus) invading a nest and ready to attack a 1.6 foot long Sauropod (a type of plant-eating dinosaur).  The fossil is unique in being one of the few known examples of dinosaurs being eaten by any creature other than another dinosaur.

The snake, which resembles those we know today, was wise in choosing an unguarded nest – its intended prey was likely a hatchling Titanosaur, whose mother may have been over 55 feet long!

Well, my mind is exploding with “re-creations”, including a basket-ball sized ancient Horned Frog I read of which was also thought capable of downing a “mere” dinosaur!

Another Shocker: an Egg-Incubating Dinosaur

Fossils are amazing in and of themselves, but those that capture “moments” are my favorites.  The most dramatic I’ve seen (many times!) depicts a small dinosaur incubating a clutch of eggs, and is on exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.

Further Reading

Please see my article on Titanoboa to learn about a 43-foot-long, 2,500 pound Anaconda ancestor.

You can see a re-creation of the scene described above on the Website of the National Geographic Society.


About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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