Scientists in India may just have discovered longest snake to ever live

Scientists in India may just have discovered longest snake to ever live

Scientists in India have discovered a new ancient giant snake that lived around 47 million years ago, reaching lengths of over 15m (50ft), making it one of the largest serpent species ever.

The snake has been named Vasuki Indicus after the mythical snake around the neck of the Hindu deity Shiva.

Fossil remains of the snake were recovered in the western state of Gujarat from a lignite mine which dates to the Middle Eocene period about 47 million years ago.

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee in Uttarakhand assessed 27 “mostly well-preserved” vertebrae remains of what appeared to be from a fully-grown snake.

The snake’s vertebrae measure between 37.5 and 62.7mm in length, and about 62 and 111mm in width.

Scientists estimate that the snake likely reached lengths from 11 to 15m, or about the length of a full-size school bus and comparable in size to the longest known snake to ever live, the extinct Titanoboa.

These measurements also suggest that the snake was broad and cylindrical, likely slow-moving, and may have been an ambushing predator similar to modern-day anacondas.

But based on fossil features, researchers suspect V. Indicus, unlike anacondas, had a non-aquatic lifestyle.

However, the possibility of an aquatic lifestyle for this giant Indian snake “cannot be completely ruled out,” they say.

“An arboreal lifestyle is unlikely, judging from the large size of Vasuki and the fact that arboreal snakes tend to have elongated vertebrae,” researchers added.

V. Indicus belongs to the Madtsoiidae family that existed for around 100 million years from the Late Cretaceous to the Late Pleistocene, and lived in a broad geographical range that includes Africa, Europe, and India.

The new species, researchers say, represents a lineage of large snakes that originated in the Indian subcontinent and spread via southern Europe to Africa about 56 to 34 million years ago.

“Biogeographic considerations, seen in conjunction with its inter-relationship with other Indian and North African madtsoiids, suggest that Vasuki represents a relic lineage that originated in India,” scientists wrote in the study.