Replica of monster snake slithers into Macon

lmorris@macon.comSeptember 8, 2013 

“That’s a snake -- O-M-G,” was Bliss Arnold’s reaction when she saw a 43-foot long snake tipping the scales at about 2,500 pounds. “That’s really big.”

Despite its size Arnold wasn’t very afraid of the monster serpent.

Other people who spotted the reptile had pretty much the same reaction.

The giant snake is actually part of an exhibit called “Titanoboa: Monster Snake,” a Smithsonian traveling exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon. The exhibit opened Saturday and will close Jan. 25.

At one time, the prehistoric Titanoboa snake was probably the largest non-marine creature living on Earth, according to a museum release. It is the largest snake known to science and the longest in world history to date.

Fossil deposits of the snake were discovered in 2004 at a coal mining pit in northern Colombia, and the exhibit shows what it would have looked like. The Titanoboa is an extinct snake that lived about 60 million years ago after the extinction of dinosaurs. It lived mostly in water, and the exhibit shows the serpent with a crocodile in its mouth.

“Oh my God -- is that really how big it is?” said Lisa Morath, of Kathleen. “I was not expecting this.”

She and her husband, John Morath, brought their 9-year-old grandson, Talmadge Morath, to the museum Sunday afternoon.

“I wonder how often it would have to feed,” John Morath said.

“Maybe two crocodiles a day,” Talmadge said.

According to the exhibit, a single large meal may have lasted the Titanoboa for a year.

Matthew Beitz, facility assistant for the museum, said research began last year on the snake exhibit. It arrived in crates by truck Aug. 24, and the entire exhibit weighs about 10,000 pounds.

While museum workers were allowed to unload the crates containing the exhibit and set some of it up, they had to wait for a registrar from the Smithsonian to open the crates containing the snake, Beitz said.

“(The registrar) came Tuesday, and with her here helping us set up and showing us how to put it together, it took us about a day to put up the snake and two more days to make the exhibit look nice and get everything situated,” he said.

Beitz is impressed with the Titanoboa.

“I really like it,” he said. “I thought the snake was unbelievable large, and I couldn’t believe they found a fossil of a snake that big.”

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.


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