Thursday, November 13, 2014

BIG Snake

I freely admit I am afraid of snakes. So, having recently read an article about a prehistoric snake, I am sooooo glad I did not live in Greece 4 million years ago.
In today’s world, the longest venomous snake is the King Cobra, which can reach 18 feet in length and weigh 15 to 20 pounds. But 4 million years ago, the Laophis crotaloides weighed as much as 57 pounds, with a length of 13 to 14 feet. Not quite as long as a King Cobra, but a lot bigger around. I keep trying to imagine what they must have looked like, and keep coming up with a slender Jabba the Hutt (Star Wars). But remember, these snakes could not only eat you, they were also venomous.
Scientists have found pieces of a Laophis fossil skeleton, so they can figure out its size, but it is that size that confuses them. Laophis did not live in the tropics, where one would expect to find a giant creature; it lived in the grasslands of what is now Greece, where winters were definitely cool.
This snake was not the only resident in this area at the time. Neighbors included giant Tortoises that could get as big as a modern car, deer, horses and rodent-sized mammals. I’m not sure why the scientists believe this ancient snake dined on the rodent-sized mammals. At its size, I’d think it would be more inclined to lunch on the deer, horses and even some of the smaller tortoises.
In any case, I would not want to meet one, in the grasslands or anywhere else.
It does raise possibilities for stories, though.
Can you imagine someone taking shelter from a raging winter storm in a cave, only to find one of these Hutts snakes already there, hibernating?
If one was stranded on an unknown planet, and came across one of these snakes that was injured and possibly dying, could they make friends with it by treating its wound? Or would it turn and eat them as soon as it started to feel better?
Or what if colonists are trying their best to eradicate these snakes, who keep approaching their camp in an attempt to make contact, since these snakes are the most intelligent creatures on this ‘uninhabited’ world?

There’s got to be other possibilities. If you think of any, let me know. Unless you want to keep the idea for your own stories. I’m cool with that.

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