This summer, Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita will host the Smithsonian traveling exhibit “Titanoboa: Monster Snake.” Slithering in at 48 feet long and weighing an estimated one-and-a-half tons, this realistic replica of the world’s largest snake is sure to send chills down any visitor’s spine. Sixty million years ago, in the era after the mass extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs, scientists believe that a colossal snake related to modern boa constrictors thrived in a hot tropical climate.
“Titanoboa: Monster Snake” includes the snake replica and two vertebrae casts made from the original fossils: a 17-foot-long modern green anaconda and the vertebra from Titanoboa, as the giant snake is called. The exhibition is a collaboration between the Florida Museum of Natural History, the University of Nebraska, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. “Titanoboa” will travel to 15 cities on a national tour organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and we are thrilled that Fruita will be one of those destinations.
The startling discovery of Titanoboa was made by a team of scientists working in one of the world’s largest open-pit coal mines at Cerrejón in La Guajira, Colombia. In 2002, a Colombian student visiting the coal mine made an intriguing discovery: a fossilized leaf that hinted at an ancient rainforest from the Paleocene Epoch. Over the following decade, collecting expeditions led by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida opened a unique window into what some scientists believe to be the first rainforest on Earth. Fossil finds included giant turtles and crocodiles, as well as the first-known bean plants and some of the earliest banana, avocado and cacao (chocolate) plants. But their most spectacular discovery was the fossilized vertebrae of a previously undiscovered species of snake.
“Titanoboa: Monster Snake” opens to the public on May 19 at the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita. The exhibit will slither away on August 5. Don’t miss your opportunity to see this amazing exhibit!